Published 5:55 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2022
By MACKENZIE MOODY
RCNH Summer Intern
AHOSKIE – Ten years ago, the ECU Dental Medicine Community Service-Learning Center opened its doors to the town of Ahoskie and surrounding communities. Since then, the center has provided oral health services to Medicaid enrollees and other community members who otherwise lacked regular dental care.
To celebrate, the ECU Dental Medicine Community Service-Learning Center held a ceremony on Friday to honor the staff and administrators for all they have accomplished over the past 10 years.
Community members, ECU administrators, and local officials attended the celebration and spoke on behalf of their experiences. Dr. Greg Chadwick, Interim Dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine, and Kim Schwartz, CEO of the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, shared their pride and appreciation for the center since its opening in 2012.
“We said whatever it takes, we’re going to make it happen. Did we know what it would be like ten years later? Probably not, but we knew we had a dream, and dreams come true. We’re fortunate that many of us who were here in that conversation from fifteen years ago are still here,” said Dr. Chadwick.
Before the center opened, Schwartz set out looking for healthcare partners to collaborate with RCCHC. She specifically wanted a partnership with a dental residency program. Ten years ago, she found that relationship with East Carolina University.
“It was a natural partnership…Our relationship has been incredible because of our combination of working with the Roanoke Chowan Foundation and the dental school. Our sliding fee patients get care here and they get it at a sliding fee rate. It’s been amazing what that has been able to do for those folks that would not have had access to dental care,” said Schwartz.
Hertford County Commissioner John D. Horton has been a patient of the center’s dental healthcare services for several years. He says he always feels safe and welcomed due to the environment created by staff members.
“It’s a pleasure to be able to speak with first-hand experience of you guys being my dentist support system. On behalf of the Hertford County Commissioners, we are so proud of the services that you render,” said Horton.
In addition to recognizing the administrators who started the center, faculty and dental students received certificates of appreciation for their accomplishing work over the years. Here in Ahoskie, the center has served 7,190 patients. The first faculty dentist, Dr. Ford T. Grant, says that the idea sounded too good to be true all those years ago.
“We realized for us to be able to solve the health care issues and challenges that we face in rural North Carolina with underserved populations, we needed to be a part of primary care,” Dr. Chadwick added.
For information about acquiring service at the ECU Dental Medicine Community Service-Learning Center, call 252-332-1904.