Vanderbilt Oral Health consolidates, expands services in new locationApr. 15, 2021, 9:40 AM
by Jill Clendening
With the opening of Vanderbilt Oral Health, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s dental and oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) services are now together in one convenient location on Belcourt Avenue in Nashville, just across from the Belcourt Theatre.
Just half a mile from the Medical Center’s main campus, the 8,400-square-foot facility at 2111 Belcourt Avenue, Suite 201, marks the first time both associated clinical services have been in the same space. Each clinic — dentistry and OMFS — cares for approximately 8,000 patients annually, and the new facility provides plenty of space with 13 exam rooms, three oral hygiene rooms and four procedure rooms.
“The new clinic is an important improvement in ambulatory care delivery for the OMFS service, as our previous space was divided between two locations with neither location capable of supporting the full spectrum of clinic-based OMFS services,” said Samuel McKenna, MD, DDS, chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and chief of the Division of Dentistry. “As the OMFS service has one foot in medicine and one foot in dentistry, having OMFS and the Division of Dentistry under the same roof is very important for patients we have in common. We are delighted to be able to provide comprehensive, personalized general dental and oral surgical care in this beautiful state-of-the-art facility.”
Dental X-rays are conveniently done using portable, hand-held machines, and a Cone Beam CT scanner is housed within the clinic. The new space also includes a dedicated space for 3D printers and computers with specialized software to allow on-site, virtual surgical and implant planning. Previously, this capability was not easily accessible by all clinicians.
Having the Medical Center’s 14 dentistry employees and 13 OMFS employees sharing one location is a huge benefit to patients, McKenna said. If a provider feels a consultation is needed by a clinician on the other team, it takes just a short walk down a hallway. The group also shares patient care specialists at the front desk who coordinate all scheduling.
“This is wonderful for continuity of care,” McKenna said. “It’s incredibly convenient for patients for us to be able to put our heads together in one space and not have the patient traveling back and forth for appointments with multiple providers. We have patients who drive as much as six hours for appointments, so the more we can accomplish in one visit, the better for the patient.”
Patients requiring major oral and maxillofacial surgery are seen first at the Belcourt Avenue location, and surgeries take place on the main campus in Medical Center East. These patients receive their post-operative care at the Belcourt clinic. A nurse practitioner will join the team soon to assist with the care of hospitalized OMFS patients.
Because oral and maxillofacial surgeons are on site to deliver appropriate sedation in conjunction with the dentistry team, sedation dentistry is now available for dental patients requesting or requiring this service. McKenna expects demand for this service will continue to grow, with an estimated 15-20% of dental patients opting for sedation.
Margaret Maclin, DMD, has also joined the practice as a full-time pediatric dentist. Maclin will also continue to support the Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, working alongside plastic surgeons and other clinical specialties to care for that pediatric population.
“I’m proud of our team’s success in bringing Dr. McKenna’s and the Medical Center’s vision into fruition,” said Tyler Ames, DMD, chief of the Division of Dentistry. “Our new state-of-the-art space is commensurate to the level of talent and expertise of our department’s incredible staff, management and faculty. The design and construction team did a first-class job in creating a modern, inviting oral health center for our patients.”
The pandemic had already led to remarkable modifications to safety protocols, including longer periods between patients to allow potential aerosols to settle in procedure rooms, followed by deep cleaning of the room before the next use. Because the space was in the midst of construction as the pandemic began, areas initially designed as open-bay areas were walled-in and doors were added to create separated spaces. A large, open waiting area also allows plenty of room for physical distancing.
Patients and staff alike are enjoying the new facility’s accessibility. Free parking is offered in an attached garage, and the off-campus location means avoiding the traffic at the main Medical Center.
An unexpected clinic feature is a single brick salvaged from the former Sportsman’s Grill, until recently located on 21st Avenue, which is built into a wall in a staff space. A plaque on the brick’s face reads, “From late-night planning meetings at Sportsman’s Grill to first-class reality in 2021. This clinic would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Samuel McKenna, MD, DDS.”
“We had a lot of late night meetings at Sportsman’s Grill, or Sportie’s as we called it,” McKenna laughed. “This clinic has been my dream for 10 years, at least.”