Welcome back to Patterson Profiles, a new series where we sit down with a Patterson Dental VIP for an in-depth chat about their personal involvement with a philanthropic organization. These individuals pursue their passions with purpose, and personify Patterson’s commitment to community!
Our inaugural edition featured Regional President Paul Guggenheim and his relationship with the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation. Today we’ll get to know what fuels the philanthropic fire of Patterson’s Director of Merchandise Marketing, Mike Smurr. Mike has been with Patterson for 17 years, and for the past 8 he has been a champion for the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP).
I feel every company who has a successful run working in an industry has an obligation to give back to that industry. Patterson Dental has been very fortunate to have a wide and deep level of support from the dental community, both on the manufacturing and end-user sides. Giving back and supporting organizations that improve the lives of people or help increase patient and provider well-being demonstrates in a concrete way the value Patterson places on the partnerships developed in the market.
2. There are many worthy charitable organizations to work with. What drew you to the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention?
The Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) came into being in 1984, when AIDS came on the scene. At the time, dentistry was referred to as “wet finger dentistry” because very few dentists wore gloves. HIV caused the entire industry to change and the government, through OSHA and the CDC, implemented guidelines and regulations to increase the safety of dental procedures for both dental care providers and patients. The formation of OSAP in 1984 as a direct result of AIDS has particular significance to me. My brother passed away in 1989 due to complications from AIDS, and in a small way, working with OSAP gives me satisfaction that I’m doing what I can in my little part of the world to keep people safe from HIV.
3. How does your involvement in OSAP align with Patterson’s core values?
Patterson was one of the founding corporate members of OSAP in 1984. The Patterson leaders at that time recognized the importance of safety and prevention in the dental practice, so I feel I’m continuing the same values our former leaders found important, which is basically taking care of the customer so they can go about their work feeling well cared for.
4. What does your role within OSAP look like?
I just finished my year being Chairman of the Board of Directors of OSAP. It was a particularly exciting year as OSAP integrated the use of an Association Management company and announced the retirement of OSAP’s longtime Executive Director. For the next 12 months I am the Immediate Past Chairman and will continue to serve on the Board and Executive Committee.
5. Where would you say your involvement in OSAP has added the most value?
Having the market knowledge from the provider, manufacturer, and distributor perspectives, all something my position with Patterson affords me, helps me to bring value to OSAP as it looks to grow and gain wider appeal in the dental market.
6. What greater meaning comes from your involvement with OSAP?
A little over two years ago OSAP launched The Safest Dental Visit, a complete educational program designed around equipping dental care providers with the information they need to protect themselves as well as their patients. Through this program, I get fulfillment from OSAP truly improving lives and keeping people safe.
7. What’s a favorite memory you’ve made during your time working with OSAP?
There have been so many! But just about all of them revolve around the people involved with OSAP. These folks have found a way to make the killing of germs and bugs interesting and fun, while at the same time being quite serious about the necessity to do so. These folks are wickedly smart and they care deeply about people being safe and protected.
8. What is one thing about OSAP that people may not know?
Originally, OSAP stood for “Office of Sterilization and Asepsis Procedures” but was later changed to reflect the safety and prevention necessities in dental care environments.
9. What does success look like with OSAP?
Success is achieved when every dental office subscribes to The Safest Dental Visit, providing their patients, as well as the dental care providers, the safest care possible.
10. What is the biggest challenge facing OSAP?
Many dental care providers believe they are properly following all the regulations and guidelines necessary to comply; however, several studies indicate that many, if not most, fall short in one way or another. The challenge to OSAP is getting through to these providers, helping them to see the areas needing improvement, and assisting them to provide The Safest Dental Visit.
11. What can people expect from OSAP in the next few years?
OSAP is working closely with the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and the DALE Foundation to create a certification program for dental care providers to become certified in Infection Control. CDC Guidelines indicate the importance of an Infection Control Coordinator (ICC) being named at every dental practice. The certification program will help elevate the role of the ICC and ensure The Safest Dental Visit for everyone.
12. How can interested groups and individuals get involved with OSAP?
Go to OSAP.org and sign up! September is Dental Infection Control Awareness Month so this is a great time to get involved.