Dental Clinic transfers ownership to county

Published 10:56 am Monday, July 12, 2010

GATESVILLE – Despite a mighty struggle to keep the doors open, Gates County Rural Health Services has turned over the keys to its facility located on Medical Center Road.

However, it should be noted that this facility, first opened in 1977 and was proudly built and owned by the citizens of Gates County, remains under the same ownership.

At their meeting last week, the Gates County Board of Commissioners accepted the deed to the Dental Center at the Medical Complex formerly owned by Gates County Rural Health Services.

That facility was the product of an effort put forth by a group of Gates County citizens nearly 35 years ago. The Dental Center was built through a series of fundraisers and private donations and was owned by a non-profit organization, all in the effort of providing dental care to Gates County.

“They began to experience difficulty in locating dentists that would remain long-term,” said Gates County Manager Toby Chappell. “They could attract short-term, but then had to begin the recruiting process all over again.”

Chappell said the dental equipment still remains at the facility.

“With a few modifications it can be fully operational again,” he noted.

The deed to the building and property has been signed over to the county.

“The county has every intention to continue the long practice to have this facility used a medical practice to benefit the citizens,” Chappell stressed. “It will remain as a dental facility in the immediate future, but in years to come we do not want to limit ourselves to that one line of medical service if the demand is high for other types of medical care.”

Chappell also stressed that this property, which belongs to the citizens of Gates County, will remain in those same hands.

“We are certain and confident that this will remain a medical facility to benefit the public,” he stated. “The Commissioners want to be very clear that there are no plans or intentions to sell this property. This building will not be given away…it will be used for the intended purpose of dealing with health and welfare of our citizens.”

Chappell closed by saying, “Thank you to the Gates County Rural Health Services board for all the hard work they have done over the past 30 years in nurturing their idea to improve the health of our citizens. The Commissioners have every intention to seeing that legacy continue.”

Speaking at last week’s Commissioners’ meeting, Jacelyn Sears, a former member of the Rural Health Board, spoke on what led to the transfer of the property to the county.

“We have tried for a long time to get a dentist to the county,” she stated. “We have tried to gain several grants to help us. We have tried many things. What we want to do now is to give the Gates County Dental Clinic to the county commissioners with the understanding that it stays here in the county because county citizens raised the money to build it.”

She continued, “We give it to you with the idea that it be used for health reasons for our citizens. Please do that for the good folks of Gates County. We also ask that if you do find a medical provider to come in that they are encouraged to hire Gates County citizens to help operate the facility and not bring in people from outside the county as staff employees.”

The property now owned by the county on Medical Center Road are the two brick buildings connected by a walkway. Another stand alone building on the same property remains under the ownership of Carl Taylor, who once operated a pharmacy there.