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Delta gift establishes pediatric dental clinic at University of Minnesota

Minneapolis—Minnesota is getting its first hospital-based pediatric dental clinic, thanks to a donation to the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry from Delta Dental of Minnesota Trust.

The $3.5 million gift establishes a clinic adjacent to the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital at the U of M Medical Center. The hospital opened in April; the children’s dental clinic is anticipated to begin operation in April 2012.

U of M officials say it will be “the most advanced pediatric dental clinic in the Upper Midwest.”

“The clinic will be a regional resource for children with complex medical, developmental and emotional needs, both on an inpatient and outpatient basis,” said Dr. Judith Buchanan, interim dental school dean. “It will be home to our advanced education program in pediatric dentistry and offer our dental residents a rich educational experience in an environment of coordinated care, working with pediatricians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists and dieticians.”

Added Mike Howe, Delta Dental of Minnesota Trust board chair: “Every dollar will be invested in bricks and mortar, and the investment will be multiplied many times over through improved oral health for children. We are very pleased to help bring this great new resource for Minnesota children to life.”

The clinic will feature 14 operatories that accommodate patients and a family member or caregiver, and teams of pediatric dental professionals. For pediatric dental residents, the clinic will provide opportunities for bedside evaluation of hospitalized patients and access to the hospital’s pediatric operating rooms and its pediatric emergency room.

Medical and dental residents and faculty in the university’s academic health center will have opportunities for interprofessional collaboration and learning in pediatric patient care, education and research; experiences in oral assessment and primary preventive dental services; and clinical rotations in pediatric dentistry for residents in the dental school’s general practice residency program.

The clinic will serve the state of Minnesota as a venue for implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of new delivery models of dental care, such as the integration and utilization of dental therapists in the dental practice.

Pediatric dentists Dr. Teresa Fong Sit and Dr. Rick Baylon will co-chair the capital campaign committee charged with raising $4.5 million to build the clinic and fund its operations for the first two years.

“All kids deserve access to quality dental care,” said Dr. Fong Sit. “This clinic will address access-to-care challenges of many of the state’s children now and into the future.”

“Looking ahead, we can expect the number of children seeking dental care will increase as a result of recent changes in health care reform that now mandate dental benefits for thousands of more children,” said Dr. Baylon. “This underscores the importance of educating pediatric dentists and this new clinic will help provide exceptional next-generation education and patient care.”

The capital campaign launched in February 2010 with several gifts, including a $500,000 grant from 3M Foundation.

The clinic will be named the University of Minnesota Children’s Dental Clinic, made possible by Delta Dental of Minnesota.