"There has been a tremendous void"
Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and dentist Michael McCracken, DDS, have partnered to create the Spartanburg Community Dental Center, which opened in July.
“For years, we have recognized that dental care is a key for the health of our community – and there has been a tremendous void,” said Chuck Morrow, MD, Spartanburg Regional’s chief medical officer and vice-president for medical affairs.
After initial discussions with Dr. McCracken in 2018, Dr. Morrow and other health system leaders engaged the Spartanburg Dental Society, as well as nonprofit organizations such as St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic, ReGenesis Health Care, Healthy Smiles, and United Way of the Piedmont.
“There has been a long-standing need to improve access to dental care services for the underserved and uninsured in our community,” Spartanburg Medical Center President Phil Feisal said. “The newly created Spartanburg Community Dental Center not only meets that need, but it also provides a teaching service through a dental residency program, training additional dentists in our community.”
The Spartanburg Regional Foundation Board of Trustees and its Grants and Allocations Committee awarded the health system a $285,000 grant to renovate the former AccessHealth Spartanburg facility. Located at 631 N. Church St., this building is home to the Spartanburg Community Dental Center. AccessHealth moved to a new location on Howard Street, near the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“Each year, our grants program supports initiatives that promote innovation and strategic improvements,” said Kristy Caradori, executive director of the Foundation. “This is such an exciting project. We know that it addresses a serious need for our community and health system.”
In 2019, the Road to Better Health partnership identified increased access to oral health care as an urgent need in Spartanburg and surrounding counties. Studies show that those without a dentist may live with tooth pain for months or years. Poor oral hygiene can also be socially stigmatizing, and it is commonly a barrier to finding employment.
Periodontal disease is also linked to a wide range of other health problems, including cancer and cardiovascular complications. In other cases, patients may need to be treated for dental infections before they can begin chemotherapy or undergo heart procedures.
The clinic meets a need for uninsured community members, who frequently visit the emergency room with dental problems.
“Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System has always served as a ‘safety net’ provider in our community, and this comprehensive dental clinic will do the same,” Feisal said.
For more information, call Spartanburg Community Dental Center 864-308-1355.