Meeting Inspīr’s Integrated Care Team: Dr. Alisa Kauffman, Geriatric House Call Dentist
Inspīr’s Integrated Care Model (ICM) is an interdisciplinary, team-based, person-centered approach to whole-person health and wellness. This approach provides highly coordinated, data-driven, and outcome-focused care across providers, settings, and time. Built on a philosophy of vibrant, intentional living and meaningful connections, the ICM synthesizes the expertise of medical professionals across multiple disciplines for the best possible outcomes for our residents.
To delve deeper into the medical professionals practicing within our Integrated Care Model, we invited Dr. Alisa Kauffman, geriatric house call dentist and recent addition to Inspīr’s Integrated Care Team, to share her background and introduction to Inspīr.
My Path to Geriatric Dentistry and Beyond
I always knew that I wanted to go into a medical field. Early on, I decided to pursue dentistry so I could combine science with my artistic abilities. As my studies progressed, I became a master at designing dentures. I knew that I needed to concentrate on what I do best to be the most successful. Surprisingly, there aren’t many dentists (especially ones graduating today) who want to continue the art of denture making. And when my best friend’s dad had a stroke a few years after I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, I volunteered to treat him at home. And that’s where my story begins.
Caring for Patients—at Home
Treating my patients in their apartments has changed my definition of what owning a dental practice really means. Being a house call geriatric dentist requires one thing: preparedness. I need to know and bring the tools and equipment I need with me for the entire day, expecting that some checkups may not always go as planned. It can be hectic to say the least, but it’s taught me to stay organized and to always think on my feet.
I love it because I can develop strong relationships with my patients, but there are challenges, too. I deal with difficult patients pretty frequently. For example, it’s always more challenging to care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but with 25 years of experience under my belt, I have my tricks to get it done.
As I’ve gotten closer to my patients and their families over the years, I always look forward to seeing one patient in particular. She is 109 years old, vibrant, gorgeous, intellectually sharp, and even gets around on her own. We love to chat about how she maintains her health and wellness to live to 109. I’d like to think it has to do with my regular dental checkups, but she thinks it is mostly luck—with a touch of genetics.
Following My Passion
I’m devoted to the oral health of every single patient. Good oral health is definitely one of the most important factors contributing to systemic wellness and adequate nutrition for the elderly. Teeth are always one of the first things neglected as we get older and getting to the dentist may not be so easy. Regular dental checkups fall to the bottom on the list of things to do.
I believe that every house call makes a positive impact on someone’s life who would otherwise be unable to get treatment. It has been an amazing career so far—and it’s been pretty fun getting an inside look on how my patients really live.
Joining the Inspīr Integrated Care Team
I learned about Inspīr from a patient of mine who asked if it would be a good fit for him. I hadn’t heard much about it at the time, so I told him I would do the research and report back. Coincidentally, one day later, I was added on LinkedIn by Brian Geyser, Chief Clinical Officer at Inspīr.
Brian contacted me saying he had heard great things about me and my practice. We set up an appointment to meet, and I immediately fell in love with the concept. With my practice, I focus on maximizing whole-person health and wellness through oral care. The Integrated Care Team at Inspīr focuses on the same mission, so joining such a caring and devoted team was a no-brainer.
Tailored, Individualized Treatment Plans at Inspīr
Every treatment plan I create has the patient’s best interest in mind. I never offer full-mouth reconstruction—and surgery is always my last resort. I want my patients to be infection- and pain-free, to chew and swallow well, and to get proper nutrition from the food they consume. At Inspīr, I will work with the RN Care Managers of each individual patient, centering on whole-person wellness in support of the other medical professionals who may also be focusing on my patients. Overall, I always treat my patients with kindness, and I am devoted to bringing this outlook to my patients and partners at Inspīr.
Oral Health to Overall Health
It’s understood that oral health and systemic health are completely linked. I believe that oral health is the window to your overall health.
The mouth is the point of entry to your respiratory and digestive tracts, and not all bacteria is good bacteria. By keeping their mouth, teeth, and dentures clean, seniors limit the chances that the bad bacteria can multiply and wreak havoc. Endocarditis, pneumonia, and cardiovascular disease have all been linked to the bad bacteria invading these systems, which is why I continue to preach the importance of oral health and its effect on overall health to each of my patients.
Making an Impact at Inspīr
At Inspīr, like with any of my patients, I will cater my treatment plans to improve quality of life. I want every resident I see to live the best life they can. I never overtreat patients. I always believe less is more, and that having a healthy mouth and good oral hygiene leads to overall full-body health. My goal is for each patient to be free from infection, comfortable in their dentures, and able to effectively chew and enjoy delicious food.
Joining the Inspīr Integrated Care Team is very exciting for me. Throughout my career, I have been able to feel personally fulfilled knowing that the care I provide my patients is improving certain aspects of their lives. Now, being a part of an interdisciplinary team of experts, I am able to participate in a collaborative effort to help residents achieve optimal health and wellness outcomes. Inspīr’s philosophy and approach to care could not be more closely aligned with my own, and I think this may be the most rewarding part for me. I’m looking forward to developing long-term relationships with residents and their families over time and feel honored to join this one-of-a-kind medical team.
Inspīr’s Integrated Care Model centers around total well-being and optimal outcomes for each resident and supports our philosophy of vibrant, intentional living. We hope this blog has offered some insight into how we bring our elevated senior care experience to life. To learn more about Dr. Alisa Kauffman, visit her website at geriatrichousecalldentistry.com.