ELKHART — Heart City Health Center hopes to offer more comprehensive procedures at its dental center thanks to a nearly completed expansion project.
“The reason for the project really stemmed from the limitation that we currently face in our dental facility right now,” CEO Esleen Fultz said.
With just two dental operatories and two hygienist spaces, the current location simply is too small for the procedures the organization would like to do.
“It made it very difficult for us to work efficiently and for us to improve access for our patients within those limitations, so we decided to explore how we can make additional space available within our current footprint.”
A project three years in the making, most of the cost of the nearly $1 million expansion was left to the Heart City Health Center, although the facility received a grant for $100,000 from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County for the project.
Since the cost of renovating the existing space would have been higher than that, the center decided to seek out a building that would better serve the purpose. Coincidentally, it was able to purchase a building just a block away from the current facility, which had been functioning as a dentist office prior to its sale.
The new dental center, located at 2100 Superior St., will add another 1,000 square feet of space for dental procedures and 11 new operatories. Heart City leaders hope to greatly expand the procedures they can offer their patients.
“It also creates the room for us to grow and collaborate with dental schools so that we can collaborate and it can be a training center for new dentists,” said LaLaesha Black, director of special projects.
Dentist Mark Green of Heart City said the new location will also allow professionals to get patients through the facility faster, and decrease wait times.
“With the increased space we will be able to complete their treatments in a more timely manner,” he said.
Additional procedures will include endodontics, dentures and partials.
“Our goal is to provide a full range of services, services you could get by going to a private dentist,” according to Green.
Another dentist will also be hired to help manage the increased workload.
The dental center currently sees 2,500 active patients, while Heart City serves 13,000 overall.
As a federally qualified health care center, Heart City doesn’t turn anyone away for inability to pay, but it’s also not a low-income-based entity, officials said. Anyone is welcome at the clinic, insured or uninsured, regardless of income.
“If you keep your community healthy, your children grow up healthy and your next generation of the community is a different dynamic,” Black said. “We’re hoping the impact we have changes our community dynamic.”
The new dental center building will be open July 22 with a ribbon-cutting scheduled for Aug. 19. Heart City continues to seek donations to help foot the bill.