The Touro College of Dental Medicine has more expansion plans for Touro Dental Health, the facility where the public can receive affordable dental care from Touro’s students and faculty.
The clinic’s location on the campus of New York Medical College in Valhalla recently was expanded by 6,800 square feet to accommodate an additional 28 dental chairs. It now covers 38,000 square feet with a total of 109 dental chairs.
Additional expansion plans include turning what’s now vacant space into a dedicated pediatric dental space capable of serving children with special needs and making additional primary medical care available to dental patients from New York Medical College’s faculty physicians.
“It’s certainly a unique situation for a dental educational institution to be able to offer both primary health care and oral health care under the same roof,” Ronnie Myers, dean of Touro College of Dental Medicine, told the Business Journal.
“I would venture to say of the 66 dental schools in the U.S. there are much less than a handful that could claim that under their roof they’re providing this service.” Myers said although the family health practice within the Touro Dental Health facility is limited right now, “I would hope that we can expand.”
Myers is a doctor of dental surgery and explained that there’s a natural fit to offering both oral and primary health care services.
“If somebody were to go to the family health center and their physician notices oral lesions or periodontal disease they can make the direct referral of having the patient walk across the hallway to be seen in the Touro Dental Health facility,” Myers said.
Along with the physical expansion, Touro College of Dental Medicine has expanded its faculty. Since April, it has hired about 30 additional experienced dental professionals. Myers said there are about 85 full-time and part-time dentists on the faculty with another 50 people involved in operating the clinical and educational facilities.
“The great majority of them live in Westchester and avail themselves of the services in Westchester, both recreational and business. It speaks to the fact that this facility has brought value to the county,” Myers said.
With the additional dental chairs and faculty members to supervise and work with the students, Touro Dental Health has the capacity to see about 400 patients per day.
“We already have 8,500 patients who are registered in our system to date. I think that’s a significant number of patients who are being serviced by our facility,” Myers told the Business Journal.
The dental school opened in the summer of 2016 and was the first to be established in New York state in 50 years.
“We are the only dental educational institution essentially north of Manhattan,” Myers said. “Manhattan has two dental schools, but north of Manhattan there is not another high-capacity dental care facility,” he said, referring to Touro Dental Health.
It generally charges for the services it provides, but does periodically offer free services for children and others during special events it holds.
“Anybody that comes in with an emergency we would not turn away,” Myers said. “Our fee schedule is probably in the neighborhood of 50% of what private practices in Westchester would charge for services. We are in the process of being credentialed by every insurance company we can, including Medicaid, so there are no insurances we don’t want to take at this particular time.”
Myers said the dental health facility is run as a series of small practices.
“We’ve named each of these practices after counties in the lower Hudson Valley, so we have a Westchester practice and a Putnam practice and an Orange practice and so forth. These practices are supervised by licensed faculty with one full-time practice leader, one assistant full-time practice leader and multiple part-time faculty. The supervision of any particular procedure would be dependent on that procedure. The more complex the procedure, the more time the faculty would spend and may even do the procedure with the student. The supervision is dependent specifically on the stage and development of the student as well as the complexity of the procedure. If somebody is doing a cleaning they would need obviously more intermittent supervision than, let’s say, a more complex procedure where the faculty member might actually do the procedure,” Myers explained.
When asked about patient satisfaction, Myers said they have done surveys and score well above 90%.
“We practice in teams so we take the utmost care to make sure that the quality is what it needs to be. We have a robust quality assurance program in which we review cases and the quality of care that is going on,” he said.
Myers said he’s looking forward to next May when the students in Touro College of Dental Medicine’s first graduating class will receive their diplomas. It’s anticipated there will be 103 of them.
“It’s all about the educational process and the provision of good quality care,” he said. “We are in business to serve our patients, to provide an educational facility that can be second to none and to provide an educational process for our students that is second to none.”