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Air Force builds new dental clinic

Educational program initiated

San Antonio—Two milestones in the U.S. Air Force's growth as a postgraduate educational institution took place at Lackland Air Force Base over the summer.

In June, personnel from the 59th Medical Wing broke ground on a new dental clinic that will be the U.S. Air Force flagship of dental specialty residency education and dental treatment. At the same time, the 59th held a signing ceremony to establish a postgraduate education program through a partnership with the Uniformed Services University for Health Services in Bethesda, Md.

Air Force personnel from the 59th Medical Wing joined civilian partners June 24 in breaking ground on the construction of a 32,680-square-foot facility to replace MacKown Dental Clinic.

"The general dental clinic and training programs for prosthodontics, periodontics, maxillofacial prosthetics and endodontics will all move from the existing MacKown clinic," said Col. Thomas Schnied, commander, 59th Dental Training Squadron. "The triservice orthodontics residency program will move from Dunn Dental Clinic and our treatment rooms will grow from 50 to 69."

The MacKown clinic opened in 1965 as one of the largest dental facilities in the world, serving as the Air Force’s dental consultation and referral center for complex treatment. It was also the first Air Force dental facility to be named in honor of one of its own, oral surgeon Col. John L. MacKown, a World War II veteran. The new modern facility, almost double the size of the original, will open in March 2012.

The memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Air Force Dental Service and Uniformed Services University, also signed June 24, establishes a new postgraduate educational program in dentistry.

Uniformed Services University, the nation’s federal health sciences university dedicated to military medicine and public health, provides the academic umbrella by conferring residents of the Air Force's existing two-year advanced education in general dentistry residency program a master of science degree in oral biology.

"Residents matriculating in the summer of 2010 will be the first class eligible to receive this prestigious degree through USUHS," said Col. Kraig Vandewalle, director of Dental Research, 59th Dental Training Squadron. "This is great value to our residents and patients."

Dr. Maria Lopez Howell, clinical associate professor in the Department of Restorative Dentistry at University of Texas Health Sciences Center-San Antonio, represented the ADA at both events.

"It was a privilege to be part of celebrating the future state-of-the-art dental facility and of formalizing the new master’s program," said Dr. Howell. "I saw the new group of incoming residents and reflected on their good fortune. I am confident that they and those that come after them will be future stars in the profession."

New facility: Breaking ground on the new MacKown Dental Clinic
New facility: Breaking ground on the new MacKown Dental Clinic from left are Senior Airman Ashley Kilby, 59th Dental Training Squadron; Chief Master Sgt. Michael Price, 59th Dental Group; Capt. Jeremy Bailey, Joint Medical Facilities Office; Col. Thomas Schneid, 59th DTS; Col. Janet Robinson; 59th DG; 59th Medical Wing Commander Maj. Gen. Tom Travis; 79th Medical Wing Commander and Assistant Surgeon General for Dental Services Maj. Gen. Gar Graham; Col. David Murchison, Air Force Dental Operations; Col. Charles DeFreest, 59th DTS; Dave Thomas, Army Corps of Engineers; Dave Wagner, J.E. Dunn Construction; and Kevin Purvis, Hoefer Wysocki Architects.