Uprooted from hospital, dental clinics move to dentistry college

BY EMILY MELVOLD | JULY 02, 2009 7:20 AM

The UI College of Dentistry welcomed two new clinics to its facility on Wednesday.

The move aimed to reduce costs during budget strains and make service more convenient for patients, said Mike Kanellis, associate dean for patient care at the school.

“There was no point in running duplicate services, so we’re trying to curtail costs and reduce layoffs,” he said.

Officials won’t know for at least six months how much money the move will save, however.
On Wednesday afternoon, an upbeat and bustling atmosphere filled the waiting area in the Dental Building. A hallway led to a row of cubicles, and many already filled with patients.

Previously located on the fifth level of the Pomerantz Pavilion at the UI Hospitals and Clinics, the Hospital General Dentistry Clinic completed its transition into the college just off Elliott Drive and saw its first patients Wednesday. It moved all of its equipment during the two days ahead of time.

The Orthodontic Clinic moved into the building ahead of schedule, on June 9, because the only orthodontist on staff had left for private practice. The clinic had to redistribute and reassign patients to new doctors.

Dental-school officials had some available capacity for the Orthodontic Clinic, but moved the general-dentistry clinic into shared areas with other departments.

A new patient wouldn’t have been able to tell it was the dental clinics’ first day in a new building Wednesday. The move proceeded relatively smoothly.

The Oral Surgery and Prosthodontic departments at the Hospital Dentistry Institute will remain in the Pomerantz Family Pavilion. Because they perform facial surgeries and other major procedures, they have a critical need to stay near the main hospital, Kanellis said.

The hospital does not know yet what they will do with the empty facilities. Kanellis said they might leave the spaces empty while they look into various options — including remodeling for new uses or shuffling around current programs.

While the UIHC is gaining empty space, the new occupants of the College of Dentistry are seeking to utilize the two clinics’ shared facilities. The Pomerantz Family Pavilion was larger than the current location, but the staff is working to adjust and work with what room they have.

“It was a little bit of a challenge,” said Kanellis. “The idea was only discussed less than 6 months ago and things had to move along quickly.”

They said that there will not be any change in quality of care between the facilities because they have the same providers and access to technology.

After the move, Kanellis said the first day of serving patients went well.

“I stopped up several times and chatted with patients and staff,” he said. “Everyone seemed very enthusiastic and excited about the change. We are looking forward to working and cooperating with the two new groups.”

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