Big Sandy Community and Technical College has announced the grand opening of its new state-of-the-art dental facility, the East Kentucky Oral Health Training Center (EKOHTC). A groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 7.
The center, according to a BSCTC statement, will be the new home for the Integrated Dental Assisting/Dental Hygiene Program (DA/DH Program) Certificate, Diploma and AAS Diploma and Community Coordinator Certificate programs. dental health (CDHC).
EKOHTC will become a site for the Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS) and a hub for training oral health professionals in the region (regular workers and small businesses) in continuing education, updated technology, telehealth and emerging oral health treatment, according to the statement.
Delta Dental and Workforce Opportunities (WORC): A grant initiative for the Appalachian region through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration funded the
creation of EKOHTC.
Dr. Jill Keaton, BSCTC Dental Hygiene/Dental Assisting Program Coordinator, said, “We are proud to serve Eastern Kentucky by providing oral health care while training future dental professionals. We are excited about the positive impact we will have on our region.
Brian Hart, Chief Revenue Officer of Delta Dental, spoke fondly of Dr. Keaton as he reflected on the early moments of the project when Keaton first approached his company with the idea for the center and applied for funding.
“All I can say is ‘Wow.’ Walking in and seeing the facility it’s world class, beautiful it’s just top shelf We’re grateful and humbled to be a part of this but our first interaction with Dr Jill and her team this Wasn’t that,” Hart laughed. “It was a plan on an easel and in Dr. Jill’s kind, humble, generous way she said, ‘We need $590,000. , and still to this day, the biggest giveaway Delta Dental has ever given to Kentucky.
The center will increase the region’s capacity to provide a reliable pipeline of trained oral health professionals to alleviate oral health disparities in our communities, the statement said.
“The opening of our new dental clinic is a testament to the power of partnerships to achieve important milestones. As a community college, we strive to be providers of hope for people in our region; these are the investments we are looking for,” said BSCTC Chairman Telly Sellars.
EKOHTC, according to the statement, includes 20 operating rooms and the latest technological advancements in oral health and dental care. BSCTC is committed to serving 200 tenured workers through continuing education and customized workforce training for oral health professionals in the region.
Dr. Jeff Okenson, DMD, who is also dean of the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, spoke about the significance of the event to past and future dental students and residents of more rural areas of Kentucky.
“When I became dean a few years ago, I thought one of the things we needed to do at our university was to make sure we reached out to our rural areas to make sure we could do whatever we could help with our dental needs,” Okeson said. “So we came here… We met with your leaders in Big Sandy at that time and worked out a memorandum of understanding that we would partner as well as we could and contribute to a vision like this, a vision that Dr. Keaton has had for some time. She’s a former student of mine…we’re so proud of what they’ve both accomplished, especially what Jill has done here.
“We came two years ago and walked through that cafeteria, that’s what it was,” Okeson continued. “To see what this has come to in the last two years is just remarkable. I wish our dental school was this nice. Here we have space, beauty, colors, lightness. It’s so positive. I know this will be a great facility for this area, helping patients here who need dental care… Thank you Delta Dental, thank you Ministry of Labor and all that Jill has said. There are too many people to thank, it’s a village for that to happen and we’re so proud of what’s happening here.
Ongoing education and workforce training will focus on coronal polishing and radiology certifications for dental assistants, laser debridement and local anesthesia for dental hygienists, telemedicine and others to support and develop the oral health/dental care workforce in the region, the statement said.