March 28, 2011
The Community Dental Clinic has provided more than $3 million worth of basic dental care services to local adults and children since it opened nearly five years ago.
The clinic on Fayette Street in Martinsville passed that milestone on Wednesday, according to Dr. Mark Crabtree, president of the Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation, which operates the clinic.
The clinic staff, students and volunteer dentists have performed 15,091 diagnostic services, 7,599 preventive services, 6,643 fillings, 617 root canals and 6,217 extractions during 13,242 appointments since it opened in August 2006, it stated in a release.
That amounts to $3,003,103.04 worth of services — calculated on local market dental fees, according to Crabtree — that have been provided to unemployed and uninsured adults and children eligible for Medicaid benefits in the community.
With the commitment of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and funding from The Harvest Foundation, the clinic has ramped up its service levels each year and now has achieved a return of $1 million per year of care being delivered to those in need, the release stated.
In addition to Harvest grants, the clinic generates Medicaid payments and receives fees and patient payments and co-payments based on their ability to pay, Crabtree said. The minimum payment is $20 per visit, regardless of the procedure performed, he added.
The clinic is operated by the Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation and staffed by students — called externs — from the VCU School of Dentistry and School of Dental Hygiene and the Danville Community College Dental Hygiene program. Local dentists volunteer to supervise the students.
“We receive requests from organizations across the entire commonwealth for the School of Dentistry to provide students to help meet the profession’s obligation to serve the oral health care needs of the public and we must weigh carefully our options for student placement in the community,” said Dr. David Sarrett, dean of the Virginia Commonwealth School of Dentistry. “The Community Dental Clinic in Martinsville meets the goals for our students’ learning by promoting civic engagement while addressing societal needs. For these reasons, this site is at the top of our list of community partners.”
Kim Isringhausen, director of the Division of Dental Hygiene and Community-Based Education in the VCU School of Dentistry, said the relationship benefits local residents and dental students.
“Through our partnership with the Community Dental Clinic, students are provided the opportunity to develop professional and community relationships that have enormous influence in shaping their attitudes, clinical skills and self-confidence. In turn, oral health care is accessible in a community where timely and necessary care may otherwise not be available,” Isringhausen said.
Dr. Risa Odum, staff dentist at the Community Dental Clinic, stated: “The dental externs give us the ability to help many more people than we could in a traditional dental office setting.”
“The demand for dental services at the community dental clinic remains very high,” said Crabtree. “We deeply appreciate VCU’s continuing commitment to our clinic and to everyone who had a part in helping us to achieve this level of service to our community.”
The need for the clinic’s services has increased as the area’s unemployment rate has risen and remained high, he said.
At one point the waiting list for clinic services was down to six months, Crabtree said, but he was not sure where it stands now. Emergency cases are handled quicker, he added.
Seventy-five percent of the area’s dentists volunteer at the clinic. They are: Drs. Charles E. Ayers, Crabtree, Craig B. Dietrich, Gregory T. Gendron, Charles W. Jenkins, Michael L. Jones, David C. Jones, James A. Jordan, Michael E. Lavinder, Raymond F. Mallinak, J. Peyton Moore Jr., James K. Muehleck, John W. Rhoday, James W. Shearer, Edward “Chopper” Snyder, George A. Stermer Jr., Denise J. Unterbrink, James L. Wilson, Fred B. Caffey, Laura R. Mallinak, Emily Mallinak, Walcey C. Burris III, Marvin Perdue and Ruff Wheless.
Snyder praised their efforts.
“This level of success is made possible by the volunteer efforts of the local dental community. Our local dentists are a group of dedicated professionals who continue to give generously of their time supervising externs,” he said.
VCU School of Dentistry has appointed local dentists as well as Dr. Susan O’Conner from Galax, Dr. Rudy Wolf of Bedford and Dr. Fawzia Bhavngri of Roanoke to serve as faculty adjunct clinical instructors.
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