ANN ARBOR, MI — The first renovation of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in nearly 50 years will make it more adaptable to its next generation of patients, students and researchers.
It was a major theme that Associate Dean of Patient Services Romesh Nalliah used to highlight the changes resulting from a recently completed $140 million dental school renovation, including a 48,000 foot addition. squares, redesigned entrances to improve access, and a new special care clinic for patients with mobility issues or special health care needs.
The renovations create more space for training and collaboration for students, many of whom help the school treat about 700 patients a day.
“A big effort in this design strategy was to build adaptability,” Nalliah said. “We know we will probably have this for many years. There will be technological changes at this time, so we want to have an adaptable space. »
The newly renovated dental school is a four-year project, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting it for a few weeks halfway through, while forcing school administrators to rethink how it safely provides care to patients.
Referred to as UM’s Blue Renew project, the renovation added three floors to an existing courtyard and refurbished 11 separate dental clinics on site. From centralized dispensaries on each floor where students can check out the gear they will need for the day, to research areas with an open floor plan for lab space, it was designed with adaptability in mind.
Its new integrated special care clinic for patients with developmental and cognitive disabilities exemplifies the school’s holistic view of adaptability, Nalliah said, helping patients who tend to have unmet needs while providing students with valuable experience working with patients who have unique needs. The clinic was funded by a $2 million grant from the Delta Dental Foundation.
“It not only allows us to see patients with special needs, but also trains our students to treat these types of patients,” he said.
The Integrated Special Care Clinic’s acting director, Bryan Tervo, said that after working in several facilities, including his own office, the new clinic is clearly better equipped to meet the needs of patients with special needs and mobility problems, because the design took this into account.
“I feel that a lot of practices are traditionally not designed and equipped for patients with special needs and mobility issues. It’s not at the forefront of their thinking when they design their offices,” he said. “This clinic is designed to meet the needs of these people and meet them where they are.”
The project’s new three-story addition features two floors dedicated to research, with an open floor plan for lab space that will allow researchers to better collaborate. Common areas, lab benches, writing spaces and break areas have also been added, while a smaller version of the school’s famous courtyard remains, along with its 14ft Tooth Fairy sculpture. from above.
While entrances remain at the north and south ends of the building, the main entrance has essentially reversed at the north end of the facility, dental school marketing and communications director Ray Aldrich said. with a covered area and a large waiting area. Region. The new main entrance and redesigned registration area lead directly to the pre-doctoral dental clinics, which are located on one floor for easier and more efficient entry to school and appointments.
The building’s south entrance along North University Avenue has also been significantly modified, with an enclosed ground level addition to create a seminar and common area, with the new entrance directing patients to the check-in area and the clinics on the north side of the building. A third entrance on the east side of the building will soon be completed.
As well as making the building more accessible, Nalliah noted the renovation has caused facility leaders to re-examine their staffing model, adding positions like a social worker to work with patients who cannot afford care and connect them to the resources they need.
“It’s not just the building – we’ve also changed some of our structures,” he said.
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