Dr. Christopher Delecki, director of the Dental Program Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, recently accepted a position on the King County Board of Health (BOH) for a three-year term. The Board sets countywide public health policy, enacts and enforces local public health regulations, and carries out other duties of local boards of health specified in State law. When interviewed about the post, Delecki said, “For some time now, dentistry has been a ‘siloed’ profession, off by itself, not considered part of ‘real’ health care. I think in today’s environment that is problematic, because people don’t see it or value it as much as medical care.” Delecki is passionate about educating people and creating “healthcare literacy” to change that perspective — so that people truly understand the mouth-body connection, and how good oral health and overall health are interconnected — and that’s why getting this post was so important to him.
Delecki calls himself a “silo-buster,” and says that he’s looking for expanded opportunities to improve the overall health of everyone in the community through creative projects that include a focus on oral health. One of those projects — mandatory dental exams for all children entering the first grade — will have to wait a bit. Delecki explains, “I’m the new kid on the block. The board has cyclical strategies and projects that it focuses on that are formed in October, November and December, and I missed that opportunity for this year. I’ll have to wait to put forth my efforts and interests for a little while.” That suits him just fine though — it’s a tactic that he’s been using since joining the WSDA Board late last year — “I’m pretty quiet at this point because I’m trying to understand the dynamics of the room, so I’m more of an observer. I see myself in the same role at the Board of Health. I need to really understand what the playing field is all about.” And while he’s not sure his presence on the Board of Health will change the dynamic of the Board, he does expect it to create more integration for oral health information and preventative opportunities to be embedded in community programs throughout the state.
Delecki is well suited to the task, with more than 21 years of supervisory, clinical, teaching, management and leadership experience in the U. S. Public Health Service (USPHS) as an employee with the Indian Health Service (IHS). Additionally, Delecki has personally developed more than 25 oral healthcare prevention programs. Other than serving on the WSDA Board of Directors, Delecki is a committee member on Washington State Oral Health task force for Children with Special Health Care Needs, a member of the health advisory committee for Seattle Public Schools and ECEAP Head Start programs, has served as president of the Seattle-King County Dental Society (SKCDS), and is an active member of the SKCDS Access Committee.