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Ongoing WVU School of Dentistry renovations boost education, patient care


Watch the video above for a student-led tour of the ongoing renovations at the West Virginia University School of Dentistry.

Transformative renovations within the West Virginia University School of Dentistry are radically modernizing facilities to enhance patient care and oral healthcare education for the next generation of West Virginia dentists and dental hygienists.

A $1.5 million project completed this fall updated WVU Dental treatment and reception areas with support from alumni and friends. The work was funded through Transforming Oral Health: The Campaign for Facilities, a $15 million fundraising effort to support multiphase facility upgrades for School of Dentistry units. 

Beginning in January, construction was completed in three phases. Phase 1 involved the creation of offices for Diagnostic Sciences and financial staff from Clinical Affairs. It also placed oral medicine, oral and maxillofacial pathology and forensic odontology experts in close proximity to the student clinic, Urgent Care clinicEndodontics clinic and an Oral Medicine treatment area. Phase 2 updated the Urgent Care and Radiology clinics, and the patient reception and waiting area followed in Phase 3.

Prior to the renovation work, the patient reception and waiting area had largely remained unchanged since it was built in 1957. The space now features a modernized look, updated equipment, an enhanced and expanded reception function, ample patient seating and physical doorways that better identify the clinic within the Health Sciences Center.

“Thanks, in part, to the generosity of our donors, the Urgent Care clinic area is significantly improved,” student Hunter Palmer, president of the class of 2023, said. “With more comfortable patient chairs, working monitors at each unit, and X-ray equipment in the actual operatories, we are able to provide care more conveniently and use the visual aids to provide important oral healthcare education to our patients. This, together with the updated imaging rooms and brighter lighting, makes the space feel inviting and professional.” 

A before and after look at the School of Dentistry urgent care patient reception area.

A before and after look at the School of Dentistry patient reception and waiting area renovations.

The School of Dentistry is working to determine the next phase of renovation work in collaboration with WVU Facilities Management and the SmithGroup, an international architectural design company. The SmithGroup is conducting a comprehensive review of existing spaces and working to develop a renovation plan that reintegrates the School’s postdoctoral clinics, Faculty Practice and Dr. W. Robert Biddington Center for Dental Innovation back into the core Health Sciences Center.

School of Dentistry Dean Stephen Pachuta said the changes will ultimately enhance student education to benefit dental patients statewide. More than 80% of West Virginia’s practicing dentists graduated from the WVU School of Dentistry.

“It is incredibly exciting to see the changes occurring at our School of Dentistry,” Pachuta said. “The recently completed renovation of our Urgent Care Clinic and the central patient reception area is the first step in what we hope will be comprehensive renovation of our specialty clinics, dental group practice clinic and our innovation center. We absolutely believe that the synergy that comes from having all of our clinics co-located will provide an optimal learning environment for all of our students. Our renovation initiative is integral to meeting the educational needs of our students and caring for our West Virginia and neighboring-state families well into 2050 and beyond.”

Private financial support is critical to the success of future renovation efforts. Among other donations, WVU School of Dentistry Alumni Association members contributed $300,000 – including individual donations of $150,000 from Loring Ross, DDS, and $25,000 from Michael George, DDS – to support the Urgent Care Clinic work. The patient reception and waiting area is named in recognition of the School of Dentistry Alumni Association’s generosity.

Individuals and businesses interested in supporting the School’s capital campaign should contact Director of Development Karen Coombs at 304-216-3784 or kcoombs@wvuf.org. Naming opportunities are available for those who wish to honor a loved one’s legacy or explore other options.

All gifts are made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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