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Dental clinic exceeds $6M in area services
Martinsville dentist Dr. James Shearer (right) supervises the work of his son, Dr. Ryan Shearer, at the Community Dental Clinic on Fayette Street. The younger Shearer was a student at the VCU School of Dentistry at the time. (Contributed photo)
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
A few months before reaching its eighth anniversary, the Piedmont Dental Health Foundation has provided more than $6 million in dental health services to area residents at the local dental clinic.
The foundation announced Tuesday it has provided $6,016,000 of care to unemployed or uninsured adults and children in Henry County and Martinsville since opening the Community Dental Clinic on Fayette Street uptown in August 2006.
There have been 26,254 patient visits during that time. Patients are served by local volunteer dentists and student dentists from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry.
The clinic has provided:
• 32,967 diagnostic services
• 15,537 preventive services
• 12,621 fillings
• 1,204 root canals
• 10,735 extractions.
“These statistics prove that the foundation is making a major difference in the quality of the oral health of thousands of residents in our community,” said Dr. Mark Crabtree, president of the foundation.
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“Last fall we reported that the Martinsville community seems to be reducing (hospital) emergency department (ED) visits by patients with dental problems and this bucks an increasing national trend in dentally related ED visits.”
“While we are gratified by the success of the dental clinic, we see the demand for dental services increasing and our funding decreasing,” he said. “We could not provide this needed care without the support of organizations and individuals in the community. Our fundraising efforts have allowed us to continue offering full-time dental services through the month of July.
“Then we’ll start drawing down our fund balance” and will launch another fund drive, he said.
The clinic is supported by The Harvest Foundation, businesses, individuals and other foundations.
In April 2013, Harvest awarded it $375,000 over two years for dental clinic operations and fundraising. The dental foundation is about to start the second year of that grant, Crabtree said. It was the sixth grant Harvest has given the foundation to provide dental care and support the clinic.
In addition, businesses, individuals and other foundations donated $84,199.94 since July 1.
“We can continue to provide high quality dental care at the clinic because of the support of dentists in Martinsville who volunteer their time and the commitment of the Dental School at Virginia Commonwealth University,” said Crabtree.
About 80 percent of local dentists have volunteered in the clinic at some point since it opened.
“They understand the hardship that local economic conditions have placed on residents in our community, and they are dedicated to giving their services to help the less fortunate,” added Dr. Edward Snyder, vice president of the foundation, which operates the clinic.
Another major success factor for the clinic is its relationship with the Dental School, said Snyder.
“Each fourth-year student in the school comes to Martinsville for at least one week to treat our patients, providing each student with an excellent opportunity for clinic experience,” he said.
The foundation must have the continuing support of the community to survive, Crabtree said. For more information about the foundation, visit www.piedmontdental.org.