Bluefield College ending plans for dental school

Posted October, 2014

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Bluefield College announced Tuesday that it has ended its efforts to develop a dental school for Southwest Virginia.

Following a meeting of the executive committee of the BC Board of Trustees, the college announced it has ceased operations for the dental school and ended its partnership with Tazewell County to develop the dental care project.

Citing as its primary reason the lack of support from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission for funding requests, the college decided it was time to move on to other key initiatives, a BC press release said.

“Given the obstacles we have faced in obtaining the financial commitment needed for the project’s success, we determined it was best for Bluefield College to cease its activities to create a dental school in order to pursue other strategic initiatives,” said Dr. David Bailey, chair of the college Board of Trustees. “We wish Tazewell County well as it explores other options to bring a dental school to this region.”

Along with the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors and the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority, Bluefield College announced plans in September 2012 to create a new dental school for the primary purpose of addressing the growing shortage of dentists and improving dental and health care in Southwest Virginia and Central Appalachia.

Tazewell County had pledged to commit $13.5 million over a seven-year span to fund the dental school. Bluefield College and the county had secured an additional $8.3 million in gifts and pledges for the project, but an additional grant request submitted to the Virginia Tobacco Commission for $15.7 million failed to come through to cover the remaining costs of construction and equipping of the dental facility.

“We believed we had a strong application with ample justification to garner the commission’s support,” said Bluefield College president Dr. David Olive. “While we were aware of other competing projects, we felt the dental school project would stand out because it would have addressed critical health care needs in Southside and Southwest Virginia, provided education for the next generation of dentists, and contributed to the economic development of our region.”

The college had originally asked the Tobacco Commission in May of 2014 for $19.2 million, half of the projected cost to develop the School of Dental Medicine, but later amended that request to $15.7 million to reflect new projected total cost figures of $31.6 million. The Commission’s Southwest Virginia Economic Development Committee met September 12, 2014 to review the dental school grant application, but took no action on the request, the second such time either part or the full commission failed to express support.

During its meeting and in its approved resolution, the executive committee of the Bluefield College Board of Trustees also expressed appreciation for the “valiant efforts given by all parties to create a dental school” and the “visionary leadership of Tazewell County.”

“We applaud the efforts of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors and the Industrial Development Authority,” said Bailey, “to explore this opportunity to promote economic development and enhance oral health in the region.”

The executive committee also expressed gratitude to the Dental Project, Inc. Board of Directors, “who championed the venture and served as its ambassadors;” to BC’s faculty and staff for their “sacrificial service in forging new pathways to make this dream become reality;” and to “all those who saw the vision and understood the need and made gifts or commitments to the project.”

“We would like to thank the individuals, foundations and businesses who committed significant support to this project,” said Ruth Blankenship, BC’s vice president for advancement. “We are also grateful for the many individuals involved with dental and health care agencies in Southwest and Southside Virginia who have been supporting this endeavor all along and who have been willing to serve as clinical sites for the students of the dental school as they learned and worked to help the thousands in need of dental care in our region.”

“We certainly grieve this vision for a dental school in Central Appalachia is coming to a standstill at this point in time,” said Olive. “Our hope is that the vision can once again come to life with the financial support needed to make it a reality at some point in the future.”

The dental school was proposed as the first occupant of the new Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Park.

New residency program coming to Abingdon

POSTED: 8:41 PM Oct 29 2013   UPDATED: 10:30 PM Oct 29 2013

ABINGDON, Va. –The board of directors at Johnston Memorial Hospital have voted to partner with Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine to establish a residency program in Abingdon.

The agreement is expected to place up to nine residents at JMH in the first year, with the number potentially increasing during the initial five-years of the program. VCOM will provide support personnel and other resources during the five-year startup phase.
“We are excited to partner with VCOM because they carry a great deal of expertise in establishing new residency programs,” said Sean McMurray, chief executive officer of JMH. “In the last eight years, VCOM has helped to roll out 10 community-based residency programs, so we are confident in their ability to lead a smooth startup here at JMH.”

The hospital hopes to have the program up and running in time to accept residents during the annual match period in February 2015.

“The partnership with VCOM does not prevent JMH from developing agreements with other medical schools in the region similar to what Carilion Clinic developed with VCOM that eventually led to the development of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke,” said Dr. Hughes Melton, chief medical officer for Mountain States Health Alliance’s Virginia facilities. “We remain open to exploring these opportunities as they become available.” said Melton.  “Washington County and the surrounding areas in Southwest Virginia need more physicians now. Studies show that physicians tend to practice within a hundred miles of where they complete their residency.

Melton said primary care physicians are particularly needed in the region, especially with the influx of new patients expected to come as more people obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

ETSU names Means new dean of Quillen College of Medicine

Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 10:13 am | Updated: 5:05 pm, Wed Jan 8, 2014

JOHNSON CITY – Dr. Robert T. Means Jr., has been named dean of the James H. Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University, effective March 1.

He succeeds Dr. Philip Bagnell, who retired last summer after serving as Dean of Medicine since 2006, according to a written statement,

Means, who is board-certified in internal medicine and hematology, comes to ETSU from the University of Kentucky where he currently serves as executive dean and professor of internal medicine and is a member of the hematology and blood and marrow transplant division. He is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians.

A magna cum laude graduate of Rice University, Means earned his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and completed an internal medicine residency at Baylor College of Medicine before returning to Vanderbilt for a hematology fellowship.

In addition to serving as dean of Medicine, Means will become president of the Medical Education Assistance Corporation, which oversees Quillen ETSU Physicians and other clinical services for the College of Medicine.

Means’ wife, Dr. Stacey McKenzie, grew up in Kingsport and graduated from Lynn View High School. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and is board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases. They are the parents of three children.

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