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Clinic's new dentist wants to 'give back' to community
Dr. Thomas Draper
Monday, August 11, 2014
The Community Dental Clinic has a new dentist.
Dr. Thomas Draper has completed his first week at the clinic, which is operated by the Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation.
He moved to Martinsville from Dayton near Harrisonburg, where he was in a private dental practice in Bridgewater.
“Being the dentist in a public clinic will be different, but I was looking for an opportunity to give back to the community,” he said.
Patients at the Community Dental Clinic are appreciative of the care they receive, Draper noted. “The entire staff has a compassionate feeling about the patients. Most of them would not receive dental care without the clinic,” he added.
Draper said he is impressed with the clinic, with its modern equipment and sufficient space to serve patients, on Fayette Street in uptown Martinsville.
He is looking forward to working with students from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry who spend a week during their fourth year treating patients in the clinic under Draper’s supervision. The students stay in converted residential facilities adjoining the clinic.
Last week, Draper worked to make the transition to clinic dentist, working with Dr. Risa Clark, who is leaving Martinsville after five years.
“Dr. Clark is an excellent dentist who has made a lasting impression on the community,” said Dr. Mark Crabtree, president of the foundation. Clark is joining her husband, Chris, who is in pharmacy school.
“Dr. Draper is a highly qualified dentist who is committed to providing high quality care to our patients,” said Crabtree. “He will become active in our community.”
A native of Michigan, Draper is a graduate of Brigham Young University and earned a degree in dentistry from the University of Pittsburgh. He has created a website to educate the public about dental health and enjoys writing articles about dental care. An Eagle Scout, he has been a Cub Master and completed volunteer service in Brazil. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.
“The Martinsville community is one of beauty with kind and pleasant residents,” he said. “I’m excited by the opportunity to be a part of the Martinsville community. This is a good place to rear children and to enjoy family outdoor activities safely.”
Draper and his wife, Meredith, have four children younger than 7. Meredith Draper is a Registered Nurse who plans to be a “stay at home” mom for some time.
There have been more than 25,000 patient visits since the Community Dental Clinic opened eight years ago.
The foundation has provided more than $6 million of dental care to unemployed or uninsured adults and children in Martinsville and Henry County.
The demand continues to increase, said Crabtree.
“Currently the waiting list is two years for comprehensive dental care, although we see emergencies as soon as possible,” he said.
The clinic relies on the support of local dentists who volunteer their time working with the clinic dentist to supervise the VCU students. About 80 percent of local dentists have volunteered at the clinic at some time, said Crabtree.
“We are grateful for the financial support of the community,” said Dr. Edward Snyder, vice president of the Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation, especially grants from The Harvest Foundation and contributions from Henry County and the city of Martinsville.
“We always will need donations because the foundation gets less than half the funds required from reimbursements and fees,” he added.
Draper echoed those comments. “The donations of the Harvest Foundation, local governments, businesses and individuals keep the Dental Clinic open, and we always will need their support,” he said.
For more information on the foundation, visit www.piedmontdental.org.