New $4M building to open in phases beginning Monday

The Northeast Missouri Health Council opened the doors to its new state-of-the-art building that will house its Northeast Pediatrics, OB/GYN Specialty Group and Northeast Dental clinics Friday afternoon.

The $4 million building, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration’s Affordable Care Act - Capital Development Grant, will begin hosting dental patients Monday, with the pediatrics clinic scheduled for Nov. 5 and OB/GYN group to open Nov. 19.

The dental clinic specifically will work closely with its future neighbor, the new A.T. Still University School of Dentistry and Oral Health, providing opportunities for students to learn and gain experience in an expansive space that features the newest technologies and patient comforts.

The new building will expand the number of active dental chairs from seven in NMHC’s current clinic, to 12, with the possibility of increasing to 18 in the future.

“We’ve got room to grow here,” NMHC CEO Andy Grimm said. “It means more work, but that’s what we’re here for.”

Patients at the clinic will find a different kind of experience, with flatscreen TVs positioned above each chair to provide entertainment during examinations. The TVs can also play a role in the examination itself, easily switching from cartoons or sports to an x-ray display, allowing the dentist and patient to discuss issues and decide on treatments.

Not all of those x-rays will be taken via the traditional “dinosaur arm” x-ray unit, either, Grimm said, as the clinic will utilize a handheld x-ray unit that he said is less intimidating for children.
However, with an eye toward educating future dentists who might not find themselves working with such cutting edge technology, two of the rooms feature the traditional x-ray swing-arm unit.
Another room was designed to house equipment for patients confined to wheel chairs. Grimm said a machine will allow those patients to remain in their chairs while being positioned in a way to afford dentists an optimal view of their teeth.

The dental clinic, led by Dr. Tim Herbst and Dr. Shoeleh Navab-Hamidi, who are soon to be joined by recent ATSU graduate Dr. Tedi Fladhammer, is a key piece of the process that brought the new ATSU dental school to fruition. Alan Freeman, CEO of Grace Hill Health Centers in St. Louis, will be an integral part of another piece, as his group will operate an 85-seat dental clinic building in downtown St. Louis that will be built and owned by ATSU.
The clinic will provide the dental school’s third and some fourth year students with the requisite number of patient encounters for eventual certification.

“It’s a partnership unlike any in the United States,” said Freeman, who was present Friday for a tour of the new clinic in Kirksville.

Freeman praised ATSU for its efforts toward confronting Missouri’s dreadfully low ranking in dental health, as well as the nation’s declining number of working dentists.

“The supply of dentists in Missouri and everywhere else in the country is limited,” Freeman said. “We’re going to be reaching very challenging circumstances sooner, rather than later, with the supply of dentists.”

The new OB/GYN Specialty Group area will double the number of exam rooms for Dr. Brent Speak, Dr. Melodie Stocks and women’s health specialist Angela Shuey from what was previously available in the group’s space at the Gutensohn building.

Northeast Pediatrics’ Dr. Roxana Ionas, Dr. Brett Moore and Dr. Shakila Mathew are also expected to be able to see more patients in the new building thanks to a more efficient workflow setup.

The Northeast Missouri Health Council operates nine medical, dental and behavioral health locations to service a nine-county area and more than 14,000 unique patients with 60,000 annual visits. The clinics accept major commercial insurance, Medicare, MoHealthNet and also a sliding fee discount for qualifying uninsured or underinsured families.