Eastman Dental today celebrated the completion of a two-year, $5.9 million renovation and re-engineering project that allows a major increase in access to care in both downtown Rochester and at its main clinic site on the University of Rochester Medical Center campus.
Rochester Mayor Tom Richards, and representatives from the offices of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Tom Reed, Representative Ann Marie Buerkle, Assemblyman Sean Hanna, and Assemblyman Mark Johns, and County Executive Maggie Brooks were present to help celebrate this new chapter for Eastman Dental, which for nearly 100 years, has been Rochester’s largest oral health care provider to the underserved.
Since the late 1990’s, patient demand each year increasingly exceeded capacity at both locations. The number of patients who came in for dental emergencies increased 100 percent over five years, placing significant strain on Eastman’s facilities and its ability to provide comprehensive care to all patients. In late 2008, Eastman Dental was awarded a $3.9 million New York State HEAL (Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law) grant to enhance emergency services for the underserved, while creating a gateway to regular oral health and medical care, and to increase access and capacity for the underserved.
With those funds, Eastman Dental built at its main site on Elmwood Ave. a first-of-its-kind urgent care dental clinic, added six new treatment rooms in its General Dentistry and Orthodontic clinics, expanded and reconfigured its check-in and check-out process to provide better quality care, and more efficient service for all patients. Eastman Dental Downtown added four new treatment rooms, allowing twice as many patient visits as before in this high poverty area of Rochester, as well as a much needed makeover to the waiting room and clinic areas. In both locations, aging equipment was replaced, new technology was incorporated to increase scheduling and treatment efficiency, and ongoing training for staff and streamlining operations was put in place.
Cyril Meyerowitz, D.D.S., M.S., director, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, announced that U of R and Eastman Dental alumnus and Midland Management President Jack W. Howitt, AB, DDS, made one of the largest individual gifts in Eastman Dental’s history, and dedicated the newly named Howitt Urgent Dental Care clinic during the ceremony.
“I’ve always had a firm connection to dentistry and watching Eastman Dental morph into the Eastman Institute for Oral Health has been exciting,” Howitt said. “For me, the new urgent care portion of Eastman Institute was a logical place to direct my commitment. This gift marks my 55th reunion year from the U of R, and honors my two late uncles, Dr. Nathan G. Howitt and Dr. S. Michael Howitt, who were both in the dental profession.”
In addition, major functional and cosmetic renovations to the atrium and all the waiting rooms improve patient flow and customer service.
On display are beautiful glassware, Inuit and African sculptures, and other artwork donated by Stanley Handelman, D.D.S., former chair of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Division and highly regarded professor, researcher and mentor for 40 years. Together, the artwork and new furniture provide a tranquil, comfortable, and inviting space in the newly designed atrium, where coffee and refreshments are available for purchase, and a patient ambassador is always available to answer any questions.
“We are extremely grateful for Jack Howitt’s generosity and commitment to our patients,” Meyerowitz said. “The new urgent care clinic and the renovations and updates are allowing us to provide substantially better quality, patient-centered care more cost effectively.”
Eastman Institute for Oral Health, part of the University of Rochester Medical Center, is a world leader in research and post-doctoral education in general and pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, and oral surgery. Eastman Dental manages 130,000 patient visits each year at its clinics throughout the Rochester area. For more information, visit www.urmc.rochester.edu/dentistry.