By Annlee Grant, Special to the Belvoir EagleMay 15, 2014
Fort Belvoir, Va. (May 15, 2014) - For patients of the new Logan Dental Clinic, all their needs can be met in just one chair thanks to technological upgrades at the brand-new facility that officially opened Friday after more than five years of planning.
Dignitaries, staff and guests officially dedicated and opened the state-of-the-art dental clinic located behind the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.
Col. Gary Swiec, Northern Regional Dental Command, dental clinic commander and a periodontist practicing in the new facility, said it's time to put the past behind.
"Finally, finally, finally, we've reached this point," Swiec said, to cheers and laughter from the crowd. "It's been a long time coming."
The new facility has 40 chairs; an increase from the 26 housed at the older clinic and has been treating patients since mid-February. Col. Mark Kuba, officer-in-charge of the new facility, said patients will experience a streamlined appointment.
"What makes this facility so pleasant is the efficiency," Kuba said.
The clinic -- which only serves active-duty military members -- now offers X-rays, cleaning and an exam all in the same chair.
"That saves us turning over the equipment, turning over the room," Swiec said.
Before, patients would have their exam, then be sent to a central X-ray area, and then reschedule to come back for a cleaning. That, Swiec said, was a waste of time for both the patients and staff, who would have to tear down and sterilize all the equipment between patients.
The new building does have a separate X-ray room for patients who need specialized imaging. Kuba said their new 3-D cone beam X-ray can give the dentists a better idea of nerve locations when preparing to remove a wisdom tooth, for example.
In the new dental laboratory, processes have been streamlined through technology. Kuba said any dental clinic can now send the lab technicians a digital impression of a patient's teeth, and they can create a crown using that information -- without having to build a plaster mold.
The clinic features new chairs equipped with electric drills and monitors to allow the dentists to show patients their X-rays, and better explain procedures. The upgraded drills, which in the old clinic were air-powered, give the dentists more torque to be able to remove old crowns without the equipment stopping to recharge. Other upgrades include a teleconference room, an X-ray duplicator, a laboratory fume hood for storing dangerous chemicals and a centralized sterilization room with updated autoclaves.
The facility is named for Col. William Logan, the first director of the Dental Division Office of the Surgeon General from Aug. 9, 1917, to Feb. 12, 1919. He was charged with setting up the Army's dental care prior to World War I.
"It's amazing what Col. Logan was able to get done in a few years, just to get rolling for World War I -- it seems like we faced the same challenges," he said.
One of those challenges was a 2013 flood in the yet-to-be-opened clinic. On Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, a fuse broke on a humidifier on the roof, causing a heating unit to fail and the pipes in the building to freeze. Half of the already-completed building was destroyed.
Swiec said the staff was one month from moving in when the flood happened. The move-in date was pushed back an entire year while the damaged areas were gutted and rebuilt.
Swiec said the clinic has since seen an increase in patients requesting appointments from military offices off Fort Belvoir.
While not all of the 40 chairs are in use in the new clinic, Swiec said they are working to increase staff.
On the day of the dedication ceremony, he received notice that two new dentists would arrive in the summer to put more of the state-of-the-art equipment to use.