When any of the 1,000 students at Kansas City’s University Academy need to see a dentist, they will no longer have to leave the building. They will simply make an appointment and walk down the hall to their very own dental clinic, staffed and operated by the UMKC School of Dentistry.
Representatives from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, University Academy and the community were on hand Sept. 5, 2012, for the grand opening of a new two-chair dental clinic in the University Academy, a K-12 college-preparatory charter public school in the Kansas City, Missouri School District. For the next few weeks, UMKC dental faculty will finish stocking the clinic with supplies and begin training students to staff the facility. The clinic will begin seeing patients on Oct. 1, and will initially be open Mon-Thus, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“This event celebrates the best of what an urban university and its neighbors can be,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton. “UMKC and our excellent School of Dentistry are committed to our community. Opening the doors to this clinic is just one more example of how UMKC’s professional and undergraduate schools are engaged with this city and its residents. It’s good for us, good for the University Academy and good for Kansas City.”
UMKC dental and dental hygiene students will provide the care under the supervision of a UMKC faculty member. Along with providing dental care, UMKC dental and dental hygiene students will develop and present educational programming designed to educate University Academy students about good oral health routines, and why oral health is important. At the same time, the School of Dentistry will engage the K-12 students in activities that provide for mentorship and develop interest in becoming a dentist or dental hygienist someday.
“This outreach effort also enables us to be an important community partner in improving public oral health,” said UMKC School of Dentistry Dean Marsha Pyle, “And the hands-on education our dental and dental hygiene students will gain here will make them better prepared for their future as practitioners. This is a win-win opportunity for everyone involved.”
Access to oral health prevention and restorative care is severely restricted in the urban core due to lack of funds, lack of providers and lack of knowledge about the importance of oral health. Members of a group, the Friends of University Academy, understood this problem and approached UMKC with the idea for the clinic last year. Friends of the University Academy is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization created to support special programs and educational opportunities for University Academy students and alumni.
“This clinic is a huge accomplishment,” said Tom Bloch, former CEO of H&R Block and University Academy co-founder and board member. “We are so lucky to have UMKC in this community. Every great city has a great urban university, and Kansas City certainly has one now.”
About University Academy
University Academy was founded by Kansas City philanthropists Tom Bloch, Lynne Brown and Barnett and Shirley Helzberg in partnership with the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which sponsors UA’s status as a Missouri charter school. The school opened in 2000, initially operating in a facility leased from UMKC located at 5605 Troost Avenue. UMKC has supported University Academy in many ways, including providing an additional layer of oversight and guidance for both the board and administration. Generous financial support from University Academy’s board of directors and the Kansas City community enabled UA to construct its present 172,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that opened in August 2005 at 6801 Holmes Road. UA reports that all 51 of its 2011 graduates were accepted to institutions of higher education, 10 of whom planned to attend UMKC.