The School of Dentistry welcomes Jennifer Farrell as director of the Phil & Karen Hunke Special Care Clinic
The School of Dentistry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, in preparation for the opening of the Phil & Karen Hunke Special Care Clinic, welcomes Jennifer Farrell, DDS, DABSCD, as the clinic’s founding director.
The special care dental clinic, the first of its kind in a Texas academic setting, will build on the region’s most comprehensive dental practice, UT Dentistry. The clinic, serving adults and children with special needs and medical complexities, including those with developmental and physical disabilities, will be housed in UT Dentistry’s Center for Oral Health Care and Research, located in San Antonio’s South Texas Medical Center.
"I am so pleased that we were able to bring Dr. Farrell in as the inaugural director of our special care dental clinic. She brings a vast amount of clinical experience and expertise, balanced with a caring and empathetic approach that is truly rare. We are fortunate to have her as part of our team and look forward to the impact she will make upon our patient community and professional learners alike,” said Micaela Gibbs, DDS, MHA, UT Dentistry chief dental officer.
Farrell moved to San Antonio in August from Chicago where she was director of the Special Patient Care Dental Program at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center for 13 years and had the privilege of treating patients with special needs through that program for over 28 years. She also provided dental care at Misericordia Homes, a residential facility for those with developmental disabilities, for the past seven years. Originally from Massachusetts, Farrell moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University Dental School. She completed a preceptorship in special patient care dentistry and a residency program in dental anesthesiology at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. She received additional training in the provision of care for those with developmental disabilities through the Dental Education in Care of Persons with Disabilities (DECOD) program offered by the University of Washington, Seattle.
Farrell became a fellow of the Special Care Dentistry Association in 2005 and a diplomate in 2007. In 2021, she was honored to have received the Lawrence J. Chasko Distinguished Service Award from the Special Care Dentistry Association.
She says Chicago’s frigid weather was an impetus for seeking a new opportunity, but it was her interview that impacted her decision to join UT Dentistry.
“During the two-day visit for interviews, I was truly struck by the contributions of the various disciplines in the clinic design, thoughtful considerations about ongoing funding sources, the genuine interest of those who attended my presentation and the respectful interactions between faculty and staff. Ultimately, it was the collaborative team environment that drew me to this amazing opportunity,” said Farrell.
This unique clinic will not only provide committed oral health care to patients with disabilities but also offer academic and clinical training to students in special-care health care across several disciplines, including dental and dental hygiene, medical, physician assistant and nursing students. Additionally, area dentists will be able to refer patients with physical or cognitive impairments to the clinic for the special care and attention that can be difficult to find.
“I envision the Phil & Karen Hunke Special Care Clinic to be a warm dental home where patients who have special needs can access ongoing comprehensive, holistic and collaborative care that will not only improve their oral health but also enhance their general well-being,” said Farrell.
Farrell moved to San Antonio with her supportive husband, four talented children, three lazy cats and a great deal of excitement for her new journey at UT Dentistry.