Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso has received a trio of gifts totaling $95,000 that will benefit its Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine and the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic, both set to open in 2021.
El Paso Electric donated $45,000 to TTUHSC El Paso with most of those funds going to the dental school and oral health clinic. Also, Kemp Smith LLP and Gene and Sheri Wolf each donated $25,000 to help establish two pediatric suites at the clinic.
The dental school will be the first to open in Texas in nearly 50 years, TTUHSC said, and its students will gain real-world experience in the dental clinic by treating patients under the supervision of faculty beginning with next year’s inaugural class.
“Our care and respect for our community that we have proudly served for over a hundred years reverberates beyond measure as we help support TTUHSC El Paso and its exciting initiatives like the establishment of our region’s first dental school,” said El Paso Electric CEO Kelly A. Tomblin.
“We understand what it means to be part of our community’s DNA and share in the philosophy of developing a highly skilled workforce that will drive economic prosperity for our community. We are proud to call TTUHSC El Paso a community partner,” Tomblin said.
The funding will provide critical support for patient labs, specialized equipment, student scholarships, and treatments for uninsured patients at the dental clinic. In honor of the donation, TTUHSC El Paso will name a dental suite in the clinic and a simulation station in the Medical Sciences Building II after El Paso Electric. MSB II is the newest building on campus and will house the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.
“We want to thank El Paso Electric for supporting the new dental school and its mission,” said Richard Black, DDS, MS, dean of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.
“We are proud to partner with El Paso Electric as they have believed in our mission and provided crucial inaugural support to help establish the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine and Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing,” Black continued.
“This recent donation will help the school and the El Paso community as our future students provide vital dental care to local residents at the clinic. Our hope is that in the future, those students go on to practice in our community, which would address an urgent need in our area,” Black said.
The new 38,000-square-foot clinic will be equipped with 130 treatment chairs and is expected to be the top dental care destination not only for the public but also for faculty, staff, students, and their families, the school said. The mission of the dental clinic is to improve the accessibility of oral healthcare in the community and offer reduced cost dental care to the public.
The clinic will address a major need in West Texas, the school said, where many residents suffer from poor oral health due to a lack of access to affordable care. In 2017, only 50% of El Paso residents visited a dentist. In El Paso County, there is one dentist for every 5,482 residents, compared to the national average of one dentist for every 2,075, the school said.
Studies have found most graduating dentists establish their practices near their dental school, which is why the Hunt School of Dental Medicine is vital to the region, as it will be the first dental school in West Texas, the school said.
Interviews are underway for the inaugural class for the school, which will welcome its first class of 40 students in 2021 and 60 students per year subsequently.
The El Paso Electric donation also will help fund other programs, including:
- Cancer Awareness Month virtual seminars
- Medventure for Your Future, an annual one-day health sciences fair for middle school students
- Personal protective equipment and handwashing stations for the Foster School of Medicine’s Medical Student-Run Clinic
- Sponsorship for Cookies, Cocoa and Holiday Cheer, an El Paso community-wide event
Meanwhile, the gifts from Kemp Smith LLP and the Wolfs will be used to equip dental suites at the clinic. These suites will be named after Kemp Smith and the Wolfs. The funds also will support scholarships, specialized equipment, and patient care.
“As an El Paso native who’s raised our children in the Sun City, my family is honored to invest in initiatives that provide improved healthcare for the entire community,” said Gene Wolf, partner at Kemp Smith LLP and member of the TTUHSC El Paso President’s Development Council.
“Giving back in this way not only ensures healthy futures for the children in our region, but creates learning experiences for students that otherwise would have to leave our community to attend dental school,” he said.
“Kemp Smith planted its roots in El Paso over a century ago, so we understand and believe in the power of encouraging growth in our community,” said CB Burns, partner at Kemp Smith. “By partnering with TTUHSC El Paso and the Hunt School of Dental Medicine, we’re providing important educational opportunities for students who have a passion for healthcare and serving families across the Borderland.”
“Children need to be seen as early as possible so they learn the benefits of visiting the dentist and developing good oral healthcare habits that will last a lifetime,” said Black. “The dental suites are designed to give students hands-on experience in developing their dentistry expertise but also communicating in a team environment and educating families about preventative care.”
The gift comes shortly before the ADA’s celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, which reinforces the importance of oral health in children and provides parents with tips to keep their child’s smile on track, the school said.