The newly established Wellspring Foundation of Southwest Virginia presented its first contribution to the region on Aug. 2 with a grant to Appalachian Highlands Community Dental Center (AHCDC) of Abingdon, Virginia.
Wellspring’s funding of $500,000 for the expansion of AHCDC’s clinic was awarded to the organization in a presentation ceremony in Abingdon. In addition to Wellspring’s support, the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) donated $100,000 and Jan Hurt of Abingdon provided $50,000.
AHCDC provides effective and affordable oral healthcare to underserved and uninsured individuals and families in 11 counties throughout Southwest Virginia. Sixty percent of the clinic’s patients reside in Wellspring’s service footprint of Washington, Grayson, Russell and Smyth counties.
Funding from the Wellspring Foundation will allow AHCDC to acquire much-needed additional equipment and begin construction to expand its existing facility this fall. Once construction is completed in 2023, the clinic will be positioned to bring in additional dental residents and serve more patients throughout the region.
Sean McMurray, executive director of the Wellspring Foundation of Southwest Virginia, noted the regional need for the kind of services AHCDC provides is consistently high.
“The ratio of dentists per person in our region is 32 per 100,000 residents,” McMurray said. “That’s approximately half of the available resources in other areas of the Commonwealth. The opportunity for AHCDC to expand and meet more of the demand for dental care is one that brings immediate benefit to the people of our region, and we’re very excited to join with the Virginia Health Care Foundation and Jan Hurt in fostering AHCDC’s reach and impact.”
AHCDC is the principal training site for Johnston Memorial Hospital’s Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) residency program, which provides a 12-month hands-on experience to recent dental school graduates. The program, which is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), accepted its first dental resident in 2020. Residents gain clinical expertise and academic training, while providing dental care to uninsured Southwest Virginians.