Valley Health Enters New Partnership with NYU Langone Health to Provide Advanced Training to Dental Residents While Improving Local Access to Dental Care

Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch

Huntington, W.Va. Since first opening its doors 44 years ago, Valley Health Systems has had one mission – to make quality healthcare accessible across the Tri-State, emphasizing outreach to those who are underserved. Always looking to respond to healthcare delivery gaps within the region, the organization announces a new program that will allow dental care across its service area to be enhanced.

Valley Health Systems, a network of nearly 40 community health centers and public health programs, has entered into a partnership with the prestigious NYU Langone Health. Under the partnership, post-doctoral residents from NYU Langone Dental Medicine will enter into a one-year advanced education in General Dentistry Program.

Five dental residents will be placed in Valley Health dentistry training sites in East Huntington, Wayne and Westmoreland, WV.

Upon successful completion of the program, residents are well prepared to meet the challenges and complexities of modern dentistry.

The program is a good fit for Valley Health given the high need for dentists and dental care in West Virginia. According to a recent report by WalletHub, an online financial service, West Virginia has the worst dental health in the nation. The state also ranked 47th in the U.S. for the number of dentists per capita.

Valley Health President and CEO, Steve Shattls, commented, “For decades Valley Health has been engaged in training medical students, resident physicians, and more recently, pharmacy residents and behavioral health doctoral students at our health centers. Our leadership team and Board of Directors felt that having the opportunity for the organization to train dentists at the post-graduate level would be a natural progression for us. It is an important step given that oral health professionals are desperately needed in West Virginia.  Partnering with NYU Langone will not only allow us to offer residents training from exceptional providers and exposure to the health center patients and rural West Virginia environment, it will also enable additional access to care for our populations. Furthermore, it will afford the potential for residents, upon completion of their training, to stay in West Virginia and be the next generation of dentists in Valley Health communities across the region.”

Valley Health’s dental director, Andrea Kelly, DDS, and Daniel Brody, DMD, Program Administrator, will provide local oversight to the AEGD program.

“We are delighted that Valley Health has been approved as a training site for the AEGD program with NYU Langone Dental Medicine,” Dr. Brody, said. “This partnership is beneficial to all parties – the patients, the dental residents and both organizations. The residents will bring the latest techniques and knowledge to our health centers, while they learn the practical aspects of patient care from Valley Health’s experienced dental team.”

Dr. Kelly expanded on Dr. Brody’s thought by saying, “The residents will live in the Huntington area while in the program, and their training will provide them the opportunity to diagnose, treat and manage the oral healthcare needs for patients of all ages. The residents will also be involved in business experiences, such as taking part in dental section meetings, listening to case studies and discussions of staff, personnel management, insurance, billing and accounts receivable issues. They will be invited to attend multidisciplinary meetings that focus on organization-wide themes such as risk management, quality assurance and improvement, and leadership training.”

Dr. Kelly further stated that the centers at Wayne, Westmoreland and East Huntington are all modern facilities that each house a medical, dental and behavioral health department. “Our centers provide integrated, holistic care, so the AEGD residents will not only work with dental practitioners, they will have exposure to the medical and behavioral health side of care as well.”

NYU Langone Health is among the top ranked hospitals in the country on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” list and supports the largest postdoctoral dental residency program in the U.S.

“We’re excited to have Valley Health as our newest affiliated health center,” said Dr. Martin Lieberman, DDS, Vice President, Graduate Dental Education at NYU Langone. “The NYU Langone Dental Medicine Postdoctoral Residency Program is proud to partner with Valley Health to address the need for high quality affordable oral health care and train the next generation of generalists and specialists in seven postgraduate programs across 31 U.S. states and the Caribbean.”

The NYU Langone Dental Medicine AEGD Program, a 12-month program/optional second year is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association (ADA) and has been granted the accreditation status of approval without reporting requirements. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. Valley Health underwent an application process to receive approval from CODA to become an affiliated program residency clinical training site.

Valley Health currently offers dentistry services for patients of all ages at six health center sites that include East Huntington, Fort Gay, Harts, Upper Kanawha, Wayne and Westmoreland.

In addition to dental care, Valley Health provides a comprehensive assortment of primary healthcare services to more than 72,000 patients in southern West Virginia, southeastern Ohio and eastern Kentucky.  Those services include family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, QUICKcare, ob/gyn, optometry, behavioral health, audiology, ENT, pharmacy, lab and X-ray.  Valley Health also supports specialized programs such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition services, school-based health, black lung treatment, CareConnect chronic care management, Medication Therapy Management (MTM), MedSynch services and programs for the homeless.