Firestarter Spotlight - Lauren Spilles

CBHA congratulates this month’s Firestarter, Lauren Spilles! Lauren is a certified dental hygienist who splits her time between working directly with patients in the dental office and serving as a liaison in the community as CBHA’s Dental Outreach Coordinator. Since joining CBHA as a hygienist in 2012, Lauren has consistently exceeded expectations of her role by improving access to dental care.

It is Lauren’s ability to identify a need and develop a plan for addressing it that her colleagues have noticed and acknowledged as exceptional. Lauren has initiated and developed relationships with school districts to provide dental screenings, and has established a medical/dental integration program that will improve patient experience and education.

CBHA CEO Nieves Gomez nominated Lauren as this month’s Firestarter, noting, “Everyone who works with Lauren recognizes her ability to connect and influence. Lauren does not wait for anyone to execute for her. When she has ideas, she follows through. She is a risk taker and it’s paid off for her. What I love about Lauren is that she does not demand; instead she respectfully brings up ideas that the organization can consider. And she treats everyone the same – from a patient in her dental chair to the CEO.”

As part of the medical-dental collaboration project, Lauren looks forward to training other hygienists and eventually making the project a state-wide movement. Lauren appreciates the opportunities she’s had to grow and implement new ideas at CBHA. “Part of the reason I left a private dental office years ago is that I saw people doing the same thing they were doing thirty years ago. That’s not me. I like to learn, and I’m creative, and I am always looking forward. Every day at CBHA is new and exciting. We are working on new programs and ways of delivering and improving access to care, and I really enjoy being part of that.”

When she’s not blazing brand new trails, Lauren enjoys the patient connection part of her outreach work – especially visiting preschools and elementary schools, teaching children about oral health, providing dental screenings and fluoride varnishes, as well as case management.

Colleagues appreciate Lauren’s natural ability to connect with patients, which she shares has an unlikely origin. “I completely understand being nervous at the dentist’s office. I actually passed out during a visit to a dentist because I was so scared. The dentist remembered me because of that, and struck up a conversation with me when buying a coffee where I worked at a Dutch Bros.” He ended up hiring Lauren to clean dental offices – an introduction to the dental world that eventually led to her enrolling in a dental hygiene program at Columbia Basin Community College.

“I actually share this experience sometimes with nervous patients. Just the exposure to dental care and knowing it didn’t have to be scary encouraged me and led to my interest in the dental field. I consider that first dentist a mentor to this day.”

With Lauren’s ability to find the opportunity in any situation – even the less-than-happy scenarios – there’s little doubt that she will find success in her present and future endeavors as CBHA.