A collaborative effort by dentists throughout West Virginia has raised over $90,000 to support an ongoing fundraising effort to modernize facilities at the WVU School of Dentistry.
Dentists throughout the Mountain State are enhancing oral health care education and clinical services at West Virginia University by donating the equivalent value of one procedure per month to upgrade School of Dentistry facilities.
The collaborative effort has raised over $90,000 to support Transforming Oral Health: The Campaign for Facilities, an ongoing fundraising effort to modernize facilities at the School of Dentistry for future generations of students and patients.
“As the state’s only dental school, our facilities renovation initiative is a strategic imperative for us to maintain our commitment to excellence in education and the delivery of high-quality patient care,” Dr. Stephen Pachuta, dean of the WVU School of Dentistry, said. “More than 80% of dentists practicing in West Virginia are graduates from the WVU School of Dentistry. We must ensure that the next generation of oral healthcare providers receive a quality education in order to meet the healthcare needs of our West Virginia families – those entrusted to our care. This initiative supports our vision of becoming the dental school of choice for students, faculty, staff and patients.”
School officials partnered with WVU Facilities Management and the SmithGroup, an international architectural design company, to develop a comprehensive renovation plan that targets treatment areas for dental hygiene, diagnostic sciences, pediatrics, oral surgery, orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics and more.
Pachuta is meeting with dentists statewide to discuss the need for private philanthropy to support the renovations. His words motivated Dr. Heath Bailey, of Beckley, to craft a giving challenge for members of the New River Dental Society, a professional organization that unites dentists in several southern West Virginia counties.
“Molehills make mountains eventually, so I tried to focus on an easy way for dentists to contribute,” Bailey said. “My idea was to get a majority of our dentists to sign on and donate a restoration or two a month, which is worth about $250, over an extended period to help the school get the funds needed to start the next renovations.”
Participating dentists could choose to donate the value of a restoration, root canal, orthodontics consultation, crown or other procedure. Bailey’s idea was inspired by his daughter’s experience as a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which encourages small gifts that add up to make a big impact.
Dr. Travis Wills, a friend and fellow member of the New River Dental Society, took the challenge back to his partner, Dr. Ben Hiener, and their colleagues at Shady Spring Dental Care. Together, the practice’s four full-time dentists agreed to give the equivalent of one filling per month for the next five years – a total value of $60,000.
Wills and his colleagues, along with Bailey, are all alumni of the WVU School of Dentistry.
“We have this opportunity to keep our dental school moving in the right direction for the future of dental education, and we have to take advantage of that opportunity,” said Wills, who also serves on the School of Dentistry Leadership Council. “I suspect many dentists around our state and graduates throughout the country will support this campaign and help us philanthropically get this done. It’s the perfect time and the perfect opportunity.”
Including the gift from Shady Spring Dental Care, members of the New River Dental Society have contributed more than $90,000 to support the School of Dentistry facilities campaign. Wills, is leading by example as president of the West Virginia Dental Association and encouraging other dental organizations and WVDA members to give.
Bailey believes their collective efforts will undoubtedly yield positive results for the School of Dentistry.
“The nice thing about the dentists in the state is the camaraderie,” Bailey said. “Our dentists are our colleagues. They’re our friends. We have always looked out for each other. I’m excited we can do something for the school and for the upcoming students, because I want to see them be successful.”
Alumni and friends interested in supporting the facilities campaign should contact Director of Development Karen Coombs at email@example.com or 304-216-3784. Gifts to the WVU School of Dentistry Facility Fund can also be made online at give.wvu.edu/dentistry.
All gifts are made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.