LECOM finalizes building purchase for dental clinic in DeFuniak Springs

Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 04:26 PM.

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine has announced plans to bring much needed dental health care to the Florida Panhandle community of DeFuniak Springs, where the college has purchased a medical arts building that will become home to a LECOM School of Dental Medicine patient clinic.

Like many parts of Florida, DeFuniak Springs lies in a region lacking sufficient oral health care physicians.  The state ranks third in the nation, behind California and Texas, in its number of communities designated as Dental Health Physician Shortage Areas. With one-out-of five residents lacking insurance, the burden falls on Florida emergency rooms where treating preventable dental conditions costs more than $88 million.

DeFuniak Springs is located between Tallahassee and Pensacola where more than a half-million people live. Its proximity to highly-traveled Interstate-10 will enable the clinic to treat patients from both rural Florida and parts of Alabama.

“There is an overwhelming need for physicians and dentists in more than 30 counties near this location,” said Durell Peaden, Jr., M.D., J.D., a member of the LECOM Board of Trustees. “LECOM is bringing high-quality healthcare education and a commitment to attract more dentists to this area.” 

“The presence of a dental clinic in DeFuniak Springs will improve the health status of the community by providing comprehensive care and general dentistry for all age groups,” said Dr. Peaden, who served as the area’s state senator for 10 years.

LECOM passed over Crestview and selected DeFuniak Springs when a former neurosurgery clinic and an adjacent, three-year-old motel went on the market.

"The Lord sent us that," Peaden said, adding the site can serve people from 80 miles away. "It was ideal as a dental school and was already approved by state."

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