LUMBERTON — Closing on the property that will house a future dental clinic in Robeson County is drawing near, according to an official with East Carolina University’s Dental School of Medicine.
“We are still in the design and property-closing phases of the project,” said Dr. Michael Scholtz, director of ECU’s Community Dental Program. “We’re having to do a little bit of work on the property for the (state) DOT.”
The Robeson County commissioners on May 7, 2012, voted to donate the 2.5 acres of land located in front of the Pinecrest Country Club, near the county Department of Social Services on N.C. 711 and adjacent to the Pinecrest Village subdivision, to the dental school so it can open a Community Learning Center in Lumberton. According to County Manager Ricky Harris, the property is valued at about $30,000.
The center is one of 10 the school will eventually open in rural areas across the state. It will provide a community-based site for fourth-year dental students and post-graduate residents to learn and sharpen their skills, as well as provide free and reduced-cost dental care to qualifying residents.
The center will be housed in a 7,700-square-foot building that will include 16 operatories, a university official said last year. Construction will cost more than $2 million and the building will house about $1 million in equipment.
Plans call for the center to be staffed with 10 to 12 people, including ECU faculty, residents and students — who will reside in or near Robeson County. There will be two post-graduate residents and four or five fourth-year students at the center at any one time.
According to Scholtz, the university has had one of the centers operating in Ahoskie for about six months. A center in Elizabeth City will open in a few weeks, and within another couple of weeks groundbreakings will be held for centers in Lillington and Sylva, he said.
The Lumberton center and others in Davidson County and Spruce Pine are slated to be completed sometime in 2014, Scholtz said.
At the time Robeson County donated the land to the university, Commissioner Tom Taylor, chairman of the county’s Health Board, called the proposed facility “one of the best things that can happen for the county.”
“It will help a lot of people get the free or reduced dental care that they need,” he said.