Contributed by Janna Laverdiere, D.M.D., dentist at Johnson Health Center, and Michelle McGregor, R.D.H., B.S., M.Ed., director of community and collaborative partnerships at VCU School of Dentistry

Every week, two VCU School of Dentistry dental students travel to Johnson Health Center (JHC) clinics in Lynchburg, Va., to provide care under the direction of Janna Laverdiere, D.M.D., and Brandon Newcomb, D.D.S., a VCU School of Dentistry alum. The JHC is a non-profit, independent, Federally Qualified Health Center that serves Lynchburg and the counties of Amherst, Bedford and Campbell. The health center is governed by a board of directors comprised of at least 51% of the patient populations and offers adult medical, pediatrics, OBGYN, behavioral health, pharmacy and dental services to local residents.

JHC’s Dental Department is comprised of three main dental clinic locations. Two clinics are dedicated to adult practice, and one location prioritizes expecting mothers and children. They also operate a mobile dental unit.  In 2021, the clinic secured grant funding toward the purchase of a mobile dental unit with the primary goal of community engagement in school-based oral health programs. The JHC mobile dental unit houses panoramic and NOMADTM radiographs; on-site wi-fi for electronic health record access; and two operatories with full amenities to provide comprehensive exams and preventative care at local elementary schools, including oral hygiene instruction, prophylaxis, topical fluoride application, sealant placement and silver diamine fluoride treatment.

When the mobile dental unit is not in use, it operates as an emergency dental walk-in clinic to serve the extreme demand of emergent dental care in Central and Southwest Virginia. Dental students work alongside Dr. Laverdiere to approach and provide same-day treatment for patients with chronic abscesses, severe pain and swelling, who often turn to the local emergency room for palliative treatment instead of addressing the root cause. JHC is incredibly thankful for the partnership with VCU dental students to help meet everyday demands and fulfill the goal of providing safety-net dental services to JHC’s community and vulnerable populations.  

Categories Public Health, Schoolwide News