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Renovated Laredo Dental Clinic home of new residencies

Posted on Monday, March 09, 2009 · Volume: XLII · Issue: 5


UT Health Science Center Interim President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP,(left) and Hector Gonzalez, M.D., director of the City of Laredo Health Department, spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
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UT Health Science Center Interim President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP,(left) and Hector Gonzalez, M.D., director of the City of Laredo Health Department, spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.clear graphic

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The City of Laredo Health Department hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 20 to celebrate the opening of its newly renovated dental clinic.

The clinic will serve as the primary training site in Laredo for two new dental residency programs of The University of Texas Health Science Center Dental School. The new residency programs are in Advanced Education in General Dentistry and Pediatric Dentistry.

State-of-the art equipment
The nearly 6,000-square-foot, $1.3 million renovated dental clinic at the City of Laredo Health Department, 2600 Cedar Avenue, is a state-of- the-art, fully equipped, 15-chair clinical training facility. It includes up-to-date sedation equipment so that patients with urgent dental needs can receive care more comfortably. The Dental Clinic is built with an “open bay” concept but has some more private treatment rooms, as well. The pediatric side of the clinic is decorated with kid-friendly characters, such as Hannah Montana, Spiderman and characters from the movie “Cars.”

Hector F. Gonzales, M.D., director of the City of Laredo Health Department, was master of ceremonies at the event. He introduced officials including Deputy City Manager Cynthia Collazo; Laredo City Councilwoman Cindy Liendo Espinoza; Webb County Commissioner Rosaura “Wawi” Tijerina; and Charles Bell, M.D., deputy commissioner at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Supporters of the new Dental Clinic at the Laredo Health Department cut the ribbon to officially open the renovated facility to Laredo area dental patients.
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Supporters of the new Dental Clinic at the Laredo Health Department cut the ribbon to officially open the renovated facility to Laredo area dental patients.clear graphic

 

Clinic will help meet need for dental care in Laredo
Dr. Gonzalez mentioned the great need for dental care in Laredo and the tremendous collaboration in the dental community to meet this need. “This initiative is a culmination of several years working toward better dental health care and dental health care access for our underserved area,” Dr. Gonzalez said.

Result of collaborative effort
UT Health Science Center Interim President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, said, “Today marks another occasion to celebrate one of many great community collaborations in dental education in Laredo. Each person and each organization has played a key role in making days like this possible. I am glad that the Health Science Center is a partner in this effort so we can get closer to our goal of improving health for South Texans.”

Dental education program in Laredo began in mid-1990s
The dental education program in Laredo began in 1994 with dental student clinical training programs at Gateway Community Health Center. Over the years, through partnerships with local, regional and state agencies as well as private donors, the programs have expanded to include residency training programs in prosthodontics, periodontics, dental public health and now advanced general dentistry and pediatric dentistry.

Faculty members return home to direct the two new residencies
Two assistant professors from the UT Health Science Center — Louis Garcia, D.D.S., originally from Laredo, and Minerva Garcia, D.D.S., who grew up in Zapata — have returned home to South Texas to direct the two new residencies and raise their children. Dr. Louis Garcia is directing the Dental Clinic and the Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency program. Dr. Minerva Garcia, The Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust Distinguished University Chair in Oral Health, is managing the pediatric dentistry residency training.

Dr. Louis Garcia said, “The goal of the advanced general dentistry program is to produce a graduate who will be able to treat a wide variety of routine and complex dental patients with broader knowledge, confidence and increased technical skills. The general dentistry residency allows the residents to get additional practice not only in the many treatments a general dentist performs, but also in comprehensive care of patients and working closely with the medical community.”

Dental residents to attend class through the Laredo Campus Extension
The four dental residents — two each in the general dentistry and pediatric dentistry programs — began their clinical training in fall 2008 at other Laredo locations until the renovated dental clinic was ready for occupancy. The residents attend classes with their counterparts in San Antonio via videoconference at the Health Science Center’s Laredo Campus Extension, 1937 Bustamante. Next year three residents will be accepted into the one-year general dentistry program, while two more will join the two-year pediatric residency.

Many collaborators made the renovated Dental Clinic possible
In addition to the City of Laredo, the health department and Webb County officials, many other community partners played a role in supporting the Health Science Center’s dental training programs in Laredo. They include State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Ph.D.; State Reps. Richard Raymond and Ryan Guillen; Mike Trevino, chief executive officer of Gateway Community Health Center; Superintendent Roberto Santos, Health Services Director Irene Rosales and Principal Maria De Lourdes Viloria from United Independent School District; Sister Rosemary Welsh from Mercy Ministries of Laredo; Judge Solomon Casseb Jr. and Joseph C. Martin III, trustees of the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust; Mr. and Mrs. Tony Sanchez, CEO Frank Guerra and Sara Pompa from the A.R. “Tony” and Maria J. Sanchez Family Foundation; Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ Kevin Moriarty, Joe Babb and Pilar Oates; the Laredo Community Foundation and Patti Guajardo; the Canseco Foundation; and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Key UT Health Science Center dental faculty members recognized
During his remarks, William W. Dodge, D.D.S., vice dean of the Dental School, mentioned a number of Health Science Center faculty members who played key roles in bringing the two new residencies to Laredo, including Kenneth Kalkwarf, D.D.S., dean of the Dental School; Elaine Neenan, D.D.S., associate dean for external affairs in the Dental School; Kevin Donley, chair of the Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program, and Joseph Berrong, D.D.S., chair of the General Dentistry Residency Program.

 
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