$2 million gift will expand OU dentistry program to Tulsa | The Journal Record
TULSA – The University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry will expand its predoctoral program to the OU-Tulsa campus and open a teaching and comprehensive care clinic funded primarily by a $2 million gift announced Thursday.
The gift from Delta Dental of Oklahoma and its foundation continues a 20-year partnership between the company and the college in support of their shared mission to provide oral health care to Oklahomans, OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. said.
The new clinic, the first of several OU College of Dentistry clinical extensions anticipated throughout the state, will offer comprehensive services to patients of all ages. Care will be provided by third- and fourth-year dental students under the supervision of licensed dental faculty members.
Expected to open this summer, the 5,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art clinic is under construction on the third floor of the OU Health Physicians Schusterman Center Clinic building on the OU-Tulsa campus. Total cost of the project is expected to be between $3 million and $3.25 million.
Harroz said Delta Dental previously gave the OU College of Dentistry $3.2 million – the single largest gift to the college – for the clinic at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.
Over the past five years, that clinic has provided dental and emergency care to more than 285,000 patients who otherwise might not receive care, he said.
Nearly one-quarter of those patients travel from the northeastern part of the state to receive care at a greatly reduced cost that now will be available to them in Tulsa.
“This is notable for the city of Tulsa because we need this so much,” said C. Rieger Wood, D.D.D., who will be the director of clinical operations. “As a native of Tulsa, it is especially gratifying to bring the high-quality dental services we provide in Oklahoma City to underserved communities in northeastern Oklahoma.”
Oklahoma ranks 49th in access to oral health care with 50 dentists per 100,000 state residents, Wood said. The expansion of OU’s dental services to Tulsa will play a significant role in improving access, he said.
Dean Paul Mullasseril said the OU College of Dentistry is the state’s only clinical program and has trained 73% of the practicing dentists in Oklahoma.
With the expansion to Tulsa, the college eventually will be able to increase its enrollment and train more dentists. One new faculty member already has been hired, he said.
The new facility – to be named the OU College of Dentistry Delta Dental of Oklahoma Comprehensive Care Clinic – will help the college “fulfill its primary role of improving the oral health of Oklahomans and expanding access to high-quality dental care at a more affordable cost,” Mullasseril said.
“As the state’s only not-for-profit dental benefits provider, Delta Dental of Oklahoma is proud to stand with the University of Oklahoma at the forefront of dental education and treatment,” said John Gladden, president and CEO. “We are all in when it comes to supporting this critical institution.”
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