Read more: Members may have trouble getting meds at some pharmacies.

Select language

Media inquiries

Media inquiries

CareOregon works with multiple community partners to help people get health care, housing, employment, education, healthy food and more. Helping just one person or family can make an entire community stronger. It’s something we call the CareOregon Effect.

Please contact us for further information. We welcome your requests for interviews with CareOregon’s experts or our members, for background information or to arrange a guest speaker for your organization. 


Erich Ericson
Vice President, Branding, Marketing and Communications

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid)
  • Medicare
  • Medical homes
  • Lean process improvement in health care settings
  • Human-centered (a.k.a. user-centered) design in health care
  • Member councils and member advocacy efforts
  • Innovative approaches to member well-being
  • Health care policy 

Brand Style Guide

If you want to share information about CareOregon, please  click here to consult our Brand Style Guide for best practices.

Latest news, press releases and updates

Oregon Tribes Latest to Hire Dental Therapists to Stem Oral Health Crisis

May 2, 2018, 07:00 AM

One-fifth of Indian Health Service Dental Positions Remain Vacant

COOS BAY, OR -The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) this week became the first in Oregon to join the dental therapy movement, hiring dental therapist and CTCLUSI member, Naomi Petrie to provide oral health services in the community.

Video: Meet Naomi Petrie, Oregon's first dental therapist

CTCLUSI is turning to dental therapists to make dental services available to tribal members who have long done without timely dental care in their own communities. Similar to the way nurse practitioners and physician assistants work with doctors, dental therapists work with dentists—either on site or remotely—to reach more people. Dental therapists deliver a core set of preventive and restorative services, including fillings and simple extractions.

On average, Indian Country has less than half the dentist-to-population ratio of the national average, and about one-fifth of the dental positions within the Indian Health Service are vacant. A recent study in the journal Health Affairs estimated that 2,825 American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) dentists would be needed to eliminate national shortages of minority dentists.

“I’ve known Naomi Petrie since her involvement in the National Indian Health Board's Tribal Youth Health Advisory Fellowship. Naomi will be a fantastic addition to the CTCLUSI oral healthcare team, just like dental therapy will be a fantastic addition to tribes across the nation struggling with poor oral health,” said Stacy A. Bohlen, executive director of the National Indian Health Board. “Oral health is in a state of crisis in Indian Country, and innovative solutions like dental therapy work. They fill gaps in the provider shortages, reduce long wait times, and provide culturally competent care.”

CTCLUSI is the latest to join the dental therapy movement. Dental therapists began practicing in Alaska and Minnesota a decade ago. Alaska’s program has expanded care to more than 45,000 Alaska Natives in need of preventive and restorative care. Dental therapists have since been authorized to practice in Maine and Vermont, as well as in Washington in tribal communities. Twelve states are currently pursuing legislation to enable dental therapists and numerous tribes have passed resolutions in favor of adding these mid-level providers to dental teams.

Naomi Petrie, who began work at CTCLUSI’s dental clinic on July 17, is the first Oregon student to graduate from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s dental therapy education program and return home to practice.

Oregon authorized dental therapists to practice in several tribal communities as part of their Dental Pilot Project Program, assessing innovative models to expand access to dental care across the state. CTCLUSI is 1 of 3 sites partnering with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board to train and employ dental therapists under this pilot. The Coquille Indian Tribe and the Native American Rehabilitation Association currently have students in training in Alaska, and CTCLUSI has a second student in training.

Native communities have some of the poorest oral health outcomes of any population group in the United States. Federal data for Washington, Oregon and Idaho show that American Indian children suffer tooth decay at rates 3 times the national average.

The dental therapist model creates a career pathway for young people from underserved communities. Dental therapists tend to be recruited by their home communities and return to practice in those same areas after completing their education. As a result, the care they provide is not only high-quality but responsive to the needs of the community.

“The suffering from oral health issues in the AI/AN population is unacceptable,” said Joe Finkbonner, executive director of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board. “This pilot aims to turn the tide on that disparity, create a sustainable solution to the oral health crisis facing our communities, and provide a roadmap for all of Oregon to follow and learn from our experiences.”

This summer, 7 more students from Oregon, Washington and Idaho will join their Alaska peers and begin their 2-year dental therapy training with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s dental therapy education program in Alaska. The program’s recent affiliation with Ilisagvik College in Barrow allows students the opportunity to earn a degree, and apply for scholarships and federal student aid.

National Indian Health Board

Founded in 1972, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit, charitable organization providing health care advocacy services, facilitating tribal budget consultation and providing timely information, and other services to all tribal governments. NIHB also conducts research, provides policy analysis, program assessment and development, national and regional meeting planning, training, technical assistance, program and project management. NIHB presents the tribal perspective while monitoring, reporting on, and responding to, federal legislation and regulations. It also serves as a conduit to open opportunities for the advancement of AI/AN health care with other national and international organizations, foundations corporations, and others in its quest to build support for and advance Indian health care issues.


Stacy Bohlen, National Indian Health Board202-507-4070
Pam Johnson, 
Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, 206-755-4309

Website feedback

close icon

Help us improve our website

Having trouble finding what you’re looking for? Want to tell us about your website experience? Take our feedback survey and let us know!