Natasha Kellett – Recipient of the 2021 Barbara J. Heisterman Award
I am very honoured and am filled with gratitude to be this year’s recipient of the Barbra J Heisterman Award for Innovation and Commitment to Care. Being nominated by Mara Sand has made it extra special. Mara is a past recipient of this award and has been my inspiration and mentor over the past decade.
I started in the dental profession almost 30 yrs ago at the front desk. Because of this, my desire to help others access dental care led me to further my training and become a CDA and then a Dental Hygienist. After this, I spent 12 years working with Interior Health in the Public Health Dental Program and it was here that I met Mara Sand and became involved with the West Kootenay Dental Access Fund charity and the Low-Cost Teeth Clinic in Nelson, BC.
In 2017 I moved to Haida Gwaii to take a position at the Non-Profit, Band run, First Nations Community Clinic in the village of Old Massett. It was there that I became acutely aware of the long history the dental profession has played in the trauma of First Nations People. I wanted to be part of a dental delivery model providing services in a culturally safe way. A way that embraced the local Haida culture and values. A way that did not contribute to the legacy of trauma but instead would assist and empower our clients, their families, and the community of their healing journey. Out of this vision, I developed a pilot project that integrated traditional healers and their modalities into the dental clinic. They were there to assist clients in managing trauma-based dental fear, including intergenerational dental fear.
When the Global Pandemic struck last year, there was no dentist on Haida Gwaii, and all travel off-island was suspended. To assist island residents with emergent/urgent dental situations, I partnered with three off-island dentists, local physicians, a local nurse practitioner, and in consultation with the CDHBC, developed protocol and guidelines to support a form of “Teladentistry” to assist these residents.
Natasha Kellett, CDA, RDH