By Kristin MolinaroMay 22, 2009
A few weeks after the closure of Bernheim Dental Clinic, the staff of Love Dental Clinic continues to adjust to the influx of Soldiers coming through its doors.
"There are challenges for Soldiers getting an exam in a timely manner," said COL Mark McDonald, commander of Fort Benning's DENTAC.
Prior to Bernheim's closure, Love clinic was responsible for 8,000 permanent party Soldiers a month. That number swelled to more than 12,000 after Bernheim's closure, McDonald said.
"Initially, it's overwhelming to incorporate proportionally a third more Soldiers into the clinic," McDonald said.
During the last few weeks, Soldiers assigned to Bernheim for dental care were notified they would be reassigned to Love Dental Clinic while Bernheim undergoes improvements to upgrade its infrastructure.
Funded by MEDCOM, the goal is to have this, and other dental clinic projects, ready for the Armor Center and School's move to Fort Benning.
The project includes upgrading the air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems in the building. The front desk area will be redesigned. Administrative and dental rooms will be realigned to capitalize on the space. The outdated chemical-processing area in the X-ray suite will be converted to administrative space.
"We now do digital X-rays, which saves us a significant amount of time," McDonald said.
The dental lab will receive upgrades to facilitate faster service.
"We are modernizing the dental lab equipment," McDonald said.
The plumbing and electrical systems used for dental services such as fillings and cleanings will be moved to chair-side instead of in their old location along the wall.
With renovations at Bernheim expected to take up to a year, Love clinic added a kiosk in the reception area to speed the check-in process.
The clinic only has two appointment windows to process patients through at check-in, leading to lines on a daily basis, McDonald said.
The kiosk will quicken the check-in process for patients not needing their records.
If patients need their records for an appointment, they must still check in at the window and not the kiosk, McDonald said.
One glitch with the kiosk is that it doesn't designate which waiting area on the lower floor or upper floor patients should be seated in to hear their name called, McDonald said.
McDonald said the clinic developed a temporary solution by posting a roster of doctor's names next to the kiosk to assist patients.
The busiest time for the clinic is first thing in the morning during sick call and walk-in exam hours, McDonald said.
Though wait times have increased, COL John Bryson, Love Dental Clinic's officer in charge, said there are many benefits to Bernheim Soldiers being seen at Love.
"These Soldiers will have easier access to specialty care," Bryson said.
Because doctors of various specialties are co-located in the clinic, receiving a chair-side consultation during a dental appointment is also possible, Bryson said.
Love clinic conducts a yearlong residency program with up to 8 residents to train in specialties such as prosthodontics, endodontics and periodontics.
"If people are having a problem, they need to let us know. We value their comment cards. We can't fix a problem unless we are aware of it," he said.
Love Dental Clinic exam and X-ray hours are 7:30 to 10 a.m. and 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 7:30 to 10 a.m. and 1:30 to 3 p.m. Wednesday. Sick call hours are 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call the clinic at 706-544-2051 or 706-544-2052.