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Crabtree: Dental Foundation appreciates support

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To the editor:

Our hometown continues to amaze us.

Over the past 16 years, the Community Dental Clinic, operated by the Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation, has provided more than $12.6 million in dental services to low-income and uninsured adults and children. The Clinic has nearly 57,000 patient visits since 2006.

We estimate that the Foundation has raised $4 million from our community to operate the Clinic. The Harvest Foundation is our financial partner, but you—the businesses, individuals and organizations--have provided the donations that have kept open the Clinic.

Times change. The Clinic cannot continue to grow in our physical space and in our current structure. So, we’re making a change.

On Oct. 31 we turned over the operation of the Clinic to the Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness, a not-for-profit organization which received its initial funding from The Harvest Foundation.

The Coalition is a Federally Qualified Health Center, providing primary health services mainly for the uninsured and underserved in our community at Bassett Family Practice and Ridgeway Family Health. Approximately 4,500 people receive one or more services in a typical year. The average budget is approximately $5 million with an employment of 50. You can learn more about the Coalition at www.healthycommunitymhc.org.

The benefits of this decision are (1) wider access to dental care, (2) expanded dental services to Medicaid patients and (3) long-term financial stability for dental care for low income residents. Dental students will continue to train in the Clinic, enhancing their education and exposing them to public health career opportunities in smaller communities.

The Dental Foundation continues to exist as we shift our focus to funding for specialized dental services and student education. In addition to myself, our board members are Dr. Edward “Chopper” Snyder, Vice President; Ann C. Huffman, treasurer; Dr. Paul Eason, Gene Teague, Lisa Fultz and Jeamaine Shelton, and the Rev. Ron Mateer recently retired from the board after many years of service.

Your donations have laid the foundation for the sustained growth of dental services to low income residents and once again, have proven that Martinsville-Henry County is a caring community. The Board joins me in expressing our gratitude for your generous donations.

Mark A. Crabtree, DDS

President, Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation

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