Dental and Health Care Expansion Announced

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Dental Assisting Students Image

TMCC Dental Assisting students are shown working as interns with Adopt a Vet Dental Program dentist Tom Myatt, D.D.S.

A new grant of more than $1.6M has been given by the William N. Pennington Foundation to greatly expand the Certified Nursing Assistant and Dental programs and facilities at Truckee Meadows Community College.

The large grant will also make possible a new dental clinic dedicated to serving veterans, and an anatomy and physiology lab for biology students.

“We’re so grateful to the Pennington Foundation for making the Dental and Health Care Expansion Project a reality,” said TMCC Foundation Executive Director Gretchen Sawyer. “This generous grant makes such a big impact on the college and community. It will touch many different programs, that its effects will reach into the community by serving veterans and meeting workforce demands in health care fields.”

Larger instructional spaces and enhanced equipment will create additional capacity for increased enrollment.

“Expansion of our dental programs and labs will create many more opportunities to meet the increasing needs for dental assistants and dental hygienists, and certainly all of the allied health professions,” she said.

The scope of the Dental and Health Care Expansion Project includes the following:

  • Larger Certified Nursing Assistant instructional space
  • Expanded Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene Program labs
  • New dental clinic dedicated to veterans
  • Additional clinic space provides further practice for dental assisting and dental hygiene students
  • State-of-the-art anatomy and physiology lab

Benefits for the Certified Nursing Assistant Program

Classroom instruction for the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Program is currently offered at three sites. With this new grant, the CNA Program will be consolidated and relocated to Meadowood Center, North Building, first floor.

“Moving the Certified Nursing Assistant Program to Meadowood provides a more direct bus line for interested students,” Sawyer said. “There is also a collaboration with the English Language Learners program where some ELL students receive language support while enrolled in the CNA program, and this unique instructional model is made possible by another grant.”

The CNA combination clinical lab and demonstration area on the fourth floor of the Red Mountain Building is about 2,230 square feet. The new location at Meadowood Center totals more than 4,720 square feet. Further, at the new location, instead of a combination learning space, students will have independent classroom and laboratory environments.

Dental Program Expansion Includes New Dental Clinic

TMCC formed a new partnership with a local veteran’s dental health organization this spring, and the collaboration has been a success, with fully scheduled clinic hours. The backlog to schedule veterans remains tight because the need for care is great.

"At Adopt a Vet Dental Program (AAVD), we are thankful for our 'win-win' collaboration with TMCC, and especially with the latest Pennington grant approval for the TMCC Dental and Health Care Expansion Project which includes our very own AAVD Dental Clinic," said Linda Haigh, Founder of AAVD. "We also send a big thanks to TMCC Facilities Operations and Capital Planning group for all their time and effort, and to the TMCC Foundation."

The grant will enable the existing TMCC Dental Clinic to continue its work with patients in the community, and the addition of a new dental clinic especially for veterans. The resulting larger capacity will enable more veterans to be treated, and shorten wait times for appointments.

“Serving veterans in our dental clinic is a way for TMCC to reach out to the community, and also offers a chance for our dental assisting and dental hygiene students to gain valuable practice opportunities under the supervision of dentists and professors,” Sawyer said.

Six new dental simulators will also be purchased—these models simulate the structure of the mouth and face, and are used in dental schools to train dentists. The simulators will be used at TMCC to train dental assisting students.

New Anatomy and Physiology Lab

In the past 10 years, the number of students taking Biology courses Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II has steadily increased. Enrollment in biology labs is now 25 percent higher than it was in 2007.

The new anatomy and physiology lab will enable up to 12 new course sections to be added at 28 students each.

“That is definitely compelling—these are prerequisites and students need these classes to move to other classes in most of the science and allied health programs,” Sawyer said.

The new lab will be constructed by renovating two Red Mountain Building rooms into a combined lab.

"Our current anatomy and physiology lab is used continuously, from early morning until 10 p.m. at night on weekdays, and on Saturdays,” said Julie Ellsworth, PhD, Dean of Science. “We have booked it solid to try to meet student demand, and that demand continues to grow. The new lab will allow for more reasonable scheduling, giving some time between labs for setup and cleanup, as well as space for additional sections. It will be a great learning environment for our students."

Timeline for Moves and Construction

The entire combined grant-funded project will begin in summer 2018, starting with the move of TMCC’s CNA program to Meadowood Center.

The resulting space on the fourth floor will allow renovations adjacent to the current dental assisting and hygiene classrooms. The priority will be to construct the AAVD clinic, estimated to be completed by winter 2018. Other dental program remodels will occur at that time.

The completion of the dental space renovation, and new anatomy and physiology lab will occur during spring or summer 2019.

For more information about the Dental and Health Care Expansion Project at TMCC, please contact Gretchen Sawyer, TMCC Foundation, at 775-674-7648.

Note: The William N. Pennington Foundation was formed by the late William N. Pennington, a gaming industry pioneer and philanthropist, and provides grants to Northern Nevada-based organizations in the areas of education, community services, health care, and medical research.