A POWERFUL RESOURCE – ECU’s eighth dental service learning center opens in Brunswick County
East Carolina University officials celebrated what might be the School of Dental Medicine’s final community service learning center under Brunswick County blue skies on Friday, April 29.
ECU’s dental service learning centers are facilities that combine clinical education and patient care. Led by faculty members, fourth-year dental students spend clinical rotations and general dentistry residents also hone their skills at the centers.
“A few years ago this seemed like a dream and daunting task,” said Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the School of Dental Medicine. “But here we are today.”
The school is currently delivering care to patients in Ahoskie, Elizabeth City, Davidson County, Lillington, Robeson County, Spruce Pine and Sylva. The Brunswick County center began accepting patients in February.
“Our faculty, students and residents have seen over 32,000 patients from 98 of North Carolina’s 100 counties,” Chadwick said. “And we’re just beginning.”
David Stanley, executive director of Brunswick County Health and Human Services, is already anticipating the difference ECU dental medicine can make in his community. During remarks at the ribbon cutting Friday, he noted that a recent community health assessment designated Brunswick County as “having a health provider shortage.”
“This is an awful big county and transportation is difficult for a lot of folks,” Stanley continued. “That’s why this (dental center) is such a powerful, powerful resource we have available and we’re so fortunate to have it in our region.
“We’re all going to have close ties and really be woven in with this center as they provide excellent care and services,” he added.
Fourth-year dental student Sarah Kinsley of Greenville will be among those caring for patients at the center. She is set to graduate next week – part of ECU’s second class of dentists – and will move into a one-year dental residency program at the Brunswick County clinic.
“ECU’s mission and the community service learning centers are what brought me (to the school),” Kinsley said. “It’s all regulated (across the centers), so the care is consistent. And you get to live in all different areas of the state.”
Kinsley completed rotations through Davidson County, Lillington and Sylva over the past year. That travel solidified her commitment to practicing in the East, she said, and she looks forward to meeting people and getting to know the Brunswick County community over the coming year.
“Our mission is to really make a difference for the 29 counties (in our region),” remarked Chancellor Steve Ballard at the ribbon cutting Friday. “This (community service learning center) is as good an example as any of how ECU reaches out and makes a difference in health care and economic development.”
Ballard recalled the diligent work and enthusiastic partnership by so many that brought the School of Dental Medicine to fruition. He said ECU started working on plans in 2005 for a “break-the-mold dental school that would send…all of those fourth-year students out into underserved areas.”
“We take our duty seriously to be a huge driver of the (health care) workforce in this state,” said Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor for health sciences at ECU.
Dean Chadwick noted that the Brunswick County opening would likely be the last dental medicine milestone to occur under Ballard’s tenure, as the university leader is set to step down from his post June 30.
“We thank you for making ECU a leader in producing primary health care providers,” Chadwick said.
ECU’s community service learning centers are open to all members of the community, and offer comprehensive general dental services for adults, children and special needs patients in a safe, caring and professional setting. Dental insurance, including Medicaid, is accepted.
All clinics have the same architectural features and contain 7,700 square feet of space with 16 operatories, state-of-the-art equipment, wheel chair lift, 3D imaging and an endodontic microscope.
To make an appointment, call 910-253-9000.
April 29, 2016
By Kathryn Kennedy