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Press Release

MCHD Dentistry expands with two new operatories thanks to generous grants

Oct. 25, 2023

MCHD Dentistry expands with two new operatories thanks to generous grants

MORGANTOWN, WV (Oct. 25, 2023) — Even before the COVID pandemic, Monongalia County Health Department’s dental program was expanding fast, with checkups being scheduled out for a few months.
Then, in January 2021, when the West Virginia Legislature passed a law that provided $1,000 annually in dental benefits to Medicaid recipients ages 21 and older, MCHD Dentistry experienced considerable growth and demand for dental services.
As one of five programs provided by Monongalia County Health Department, MCHD Dentistry needed room to take care of those extra patients. When MCHD Environmental Health moved to off-site offices, that freed up space for more operatories.
Then it was a matter of funding.
Tiffany Summerlin, an MCHD Dentistry public health dental hygienist, wrote a grant to the West Virginia Highmark Charitable Fund for Health. A second grant was sought from Delta Dental of California. Both organizations gave $50,000 each for a total of $100,000.
“Delta Dental has been a regular supporter of MCHD Dentistry, and they were responsible for allowing us to launch our mobile outreach unit, Smile Express, in 2018,” Summerlin said. “For this office expansion, Delta and Highmark were the only applications submitted, and both provided funding very generously.”
The two new large, state-of-the-art operatories were unveiled to guests on Sept. 28 during a “floss” cutting ceremony and reception attended by representatives from both organizations.
“Gaining easier access to oral care is one of the priorities of the Highmark West Virginia Charitable Fund for Health,” said executive director Cathy McAlister. “We were honored to support this initiative and to see the newly completed, state-of-the-art operatories providing oral care to those most in need.”
Noted Kenzie Ferguson, vice president of foundation and corporate social responsibility for Delta Dental of California, “The more we can do to provide people with access to oral health care, the healthier their lives can be. We are honored to support MCHD Dentistry’s dental office expansion so they can further serve children and adults in Monongalia County.”
The new operatories are much larger than the other five at MCHD Dentistry, noted program manager and dentist Dr. Youseph Kassar.
“These ops have all the bells and whistles,” he said. “They house our digital scanners, so we are able to perform virtually any dental procedure, and patients have two TVs to watch while we are performing the work.”
Patients who use wheelchairs also can access these operatories more easily because of their size, he added. “Our current operatories do accommodate this, but the new ones allow for easier access.”
Each patient chair equates to the ability to see 1,000 patients in a year, Summerlin noted.
“We were maxing out our space, and to accommodate more patients and provide access to care for those most in need, we simply needed more space to provide those services,” she said.
Added Dr. Kassar, “This will allow us to see more patients and reduce turnaround times for appointments, in a pleasant, clinical setting. Plus, these ops are good for digital dentistry, since each one houses one of our two intra-oral scanners.”
Intra-oral scanners eliminate the need for analog impressions and wax casts, which comes in handy with MCHD Dentistry’s same-day crown technology that utilizes digital imagery instead of a messy and uncomfortable dental impression.
The grants also funded an expanded sterilization room with storage space at MCHD Dentistry.
Monongalia County Health Department’s maintenance supervisor, Greg Campbell, and maintenance specialist Ben McGaha were able to complete the renovations, which made it possible to stay on budget.
Anthony DeFelice, MCHD’s executive director, expressed his appreciation for Campbell and McGaha at a recent MCHD Board of Health meeting.
“They do good work and they do it in a timely manner. They stay on budget and the quality of work is outstanding,” DeFelice said. “We simply could not have done this if we had to hire a contractor. We’re very fortunate to have those two.”
The health department’s dental program began in 1974 and has evolved into MCHD Dentistry, a full-service dental practice that offers services including dental hygiene care, fillings, same-day crowns, dentures, extractions, root canals and even Botox and fillers, using high-tech, digital equipment. A variety of payment types are accepted, including
private insurance, Medicaid and CHIP, CareCredit and a sliding-scale fee. All services can be seen at
MCHD Dentistry currently employs two dentists; six registered dental hygienists, four dental assistants and two administrative staff members.
“We will be looking for additional staff down the road as we better understand our new space and patient needs,” Dr. Kassar said. “The expansion allows us to grow as our patient base grows. The goal is to have all seven operatories used daily, and so far, we are doing a pretty good job of that.”





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