WVU School of Dentistry awarded for improving access to dental care in West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University School of Dentistry has received a prestigious national award for improving the smiles and oral health of West Virginians.

The first-ever Orna Shanley Prize for Enhancing Access to Care was presented to School of Dentistry (SOD) Interim Dean Louise Veselicky, D.D.S., by the American Dental Education and the International Federation of Dental Education Associations.

The award recognizes an academic dental institution that has demonstrated innovative solutions for addressing local access to care issues.  

“It’s a very significant achievement for the WVU School of Dentistry to be the first academic institution from around the world to receive this award,” said Dr. Veselicky. 

“Meeting the healthcare needs of people throughout the state is an important part of the University’s mission to serve,” WVU President Mike Garrison said.  “We’re very proud of the accomplishments of the School of Dentistry and its efforts to reach out to people in our most rural areas.”

The School of Dentistry has several programs that provide oral healthcare to people around the state.  In Morgantown, the WVU Dental Clinic, located at WVU Health Sciences, offers discounted dental services.  WVU also provides dental care to Morgantown Health-Rite patients. 

At the statewide level, the Rural Health Education Partnership (RHEP) program places WVU SOD students in clinics in 30 of the state’s 55 counties.  The students complete a rural rotation, providing dental services to underserved West Virginians.  Since 2001, through the RHEP Program, WVU dental school students have seen more than 17,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 procedures. 

The First Smiles program is a new School of Dentistry statewide initiative.  WVU created a training session for dentists and other oral health professionals in the state, teaching them how to perform a child’s first dental exam.  New guidelines stress the need for children to see a dentist by their first birthday.

 “Starting dental check-ups early not only helps prevent cavities, but it also establishes a good habit of going to the dentist,” Elliot Shulman, D.D.S., said.

Richard Meckstroth, D.D.S., coordinates with the West Virginia Special Olympics Committee to provide oral screening and education at the Summer Games.  Dental and dental hygiene students as well as faculty and alumni of the School of Dentistry participate.                                                                                                                                                                                                        

The School of Dentistry received $1,000 with the award that is to be placed in the School’s General Scholarship Fund. 

WVU is the only dental school in the state, and it graduates about 50 new dentists a year.  Approximately 81 percent of dentists practicing in West Virginia are WVU School of Dentistry graduates.

For more information about the WVU School of Dentistry, visit http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/sod/



- WVU -

For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087
ec/aj: 03-30-08

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