“You definitely have a legacy,” said Martha Ann Keels, D.D.S., Ph.D. “Everywhere I go and meet people that went to school here or who have read that article , they say, ‘I love Eastman, I love Rochester.’”
Dr. Keels and her husband, University of Rochester SMD alum Dennis A. Clements III, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., were in Rochester, NY, recently to dedicate the Eastman Institute for Oral Health Pediatric Dentistry Clinic.
The couple donated $500,000 to establish the Dr. Dennis A. Clements III and Dr. Martha Ann Keels EIOH Pediatric Dentistry Clinic. The funds will allow renovations and technology updates to provide the very best training and care environment for EIOH residents and patients.
They also made a $500,000 bequest to establish the Dr. Dennis A. Clements III and Dr. Martha Ann Keels Student Support Fund to enable medical students to participate in educational, research and clinical activities in countries with health disparities. Dr. Clements, who serves as chief of Pediatric Primary Care at Duke Children’s Hospital, said the individualized, personal education he received at the University of Rochester really shaped the person and professional he’s become.
“Rochester has been very good to me,” Dr. Clements said, fighting back tears, “to allow me opportunities that few other places would do. It helped create the person I am. Going into pediatrics has allowed me to help children who can’t help themselves through no fault of their own – where they’re born, who they’re born to, etc.
“To me, this is an investment in those kids.”
EIOH’s commitment and dedication to not only serving patients who are underserved and those with special needs, but to also training many other dentists to do the same really struck a chord with Drs. Clements and Keels, and inspired them to give.
Dr. Keels, who gave a lecture to residents and local pediatric dentists about dental erosion earlier in the day, has provided dental care for children with special needs for more than 30 years. She knows first-hand the numerous challenges that medically compromised children, their families and providers face. Similarly to EIOH, Dr. Keels has patients who travel more than three hours to see her because there are few pediatric dentists who have the training to treat children with special health care needs.
“I think what Dennis and I represent is pediatricians and pediatric dentists collaboratively working together,” she said at the dedication ceremony. “Together we can begin to change the culture, which will help us be more successful.”
There are increasing numbers of children, young adults and older adults who are recognized with intellectual disabilities, chronic illnesses and other complex conditions,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of University of Rochester Medical Center and Dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “We’re very thankful that Dr. Clements and Keels’ generous gift supports our efforts to help these patients. We continue to take many steps that demonstrate our passion and commitment to having the University of Rochester be the national leader in treating these patients, and internationally renowned for research in IDD.”
As Eastman Institute marks its 100th year since George Eastman established the dental dispensary, EIOH Director Eli Eliav, D.M.D., Ph.D., also thanked Drs. Keels and Clements, and reflected on the founder’s objectives.
“George Eastman understood that clinical care, education and research are very important for underserved populations,” he said. “But in spite of the progress we have made in healthcare, medicine and dentistry, one of the biggest problems that we see today is the access to care for patients with special needs and complex diseases. Add to that the shortage of clinicians –especially dentists who can provide care to those patients, and we have a problem that is crucial.”
He spoke about Eastman Institute’s priority to train the next generation of leaders in oral health research, specialists and clinical care, and to equip them with the necessary tools to treat patients with complex conditions.
“We’re grateful for the support of the University of Rochester Medical Center, and being onsite helps make those collaborations easier, including a new interdisciplinary clinic we’re building at Eastman to conduct complex procedures and treatment,” Dr. Eliav said. “With our students and residents coming from 76 different countries and throughout the U.S., we hope to spread the knowledge worldwide.”
Dr. Sean McLaren, chair and program director for the EIOH Pediatric Dentistry Clinic, unveiled a plaque during the ceremony that reflects the clinic’s new name and to acknowledge Drs. Clements and Keels for their “unwavering dedication for improving children’s health, especially with special health care needs.”
“Most importantly, I’d like to thank you on behalf of our patients,” Dr. McLaren said. “Some of our patients come from three and four hours away and many times, we’re the only place they can receive service. What you’ve given us will really allow an improved patient experience. Our whole department wants to share heartfelt thanks to you.”