Walton County Commissioner Kenneth Pridgen and Chairman Bill Chapman attended an open house for the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (LECOM) new dental school that will open in DeFuniak Springs in spring of 2015. During the event, the commissioners had an opportunity to meet with Florida Senator Durell Peaden and Dr. Robert Hirsch, the dean of LECOM’s School of Dental Medicine.
LECOM is a private college with its main campus in Erie, Pa., with an additional location, LECOM at Seton Hill, in Greensburg, Pa., and LECOM Bradenton, a branch campus in Bradenton, Fla. LECOM is currently in the process of renovating the former MicroSpine building just south of Interstate 10 off U.S. Highway 331 and converting it into a 30-office dental school that will be used to teach current enrollees at LECOM’s Bradenton Campus.
The additional location will allow LECOM to offer their students early clinical experience in a community dental office setting. This location is being renovated to give 50 senior year students the opportunity to receive a year of hands-on clinical training. In addition to the 50 students, there will be additional faculty that will work at the location.
“This is a great project that LECOM is bringing to Walton County,” said Pridgen. “This is a wonderful opportunity to not only bring an institution of higher learning to our area, but it also brings numerous economic benefits to the county.”
While the main campus for the dental school is housed in Bradenton, there is an additional satellite office in Erie, Pa. The office currently being built in DeFuniak Springs will serve as the school’s second satellite location. The college has built clinical group practices to provide dental treatments for residents who face challenges in obtaining needed dental care.