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Dental clinic reopens at Ebenezer Medical Outreach

November 13, 2018
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Ebenezer Dental Clinic founder Leo Fleckenstein cuts the ribbon for the Ebenezer Dental Clinic now named in his honor as the Dr. Leo Fleckenstein Dental Clinic during an open house and dedication on Friday in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — The dental clinic at Ebenezer Medical Outreach, which opened in 2005 and closed in 2013, has been reopened and revamped. It was dedicated to one of its key founders Friday evening at an open house.

Leo Fleckenstein, DDS, the dentist who spearheaded the effort to get the clinic open in the early 2000s, was present at the open house where he was honored for making the dream of providing EMO patients with dental care a reality.

“It’s a very special day/′ said Stephen Petrany, a Marshall Family Medicine physician who has been involved with Ebenezer since 1989. “To be able to share that with the people who had the first vision and being able to see it come to fruition is satisfying and heartwarming. There are just lines of people who need this and who will really benefit from this.”

The dental clinic’s closure in 2013 was supposed to be temporary, and EMO has been trying to get it back up and running ever since. When the clinic closed, the patients were taken in by dentists who volunteered their time at the clinic.

The new clinic is outfitted with a brand new X-ray machine, three chairs and some other equipment that EMO already had that was used when the clinic initially opened. It was moved from an upstairs room into the main part of EMO. The clinic will be regularly staffed by a dental hygienist who will screen and refer patients to volunteer dentists.

“It’s never looked better,” Fleckenstein, now 85, said of the revamped facility.

The services are specifically for established EMO patients. EMO serves more than 2,000 uninsured and underinsured patients, mostly from the Fairfield community. The Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine partners with the clinic and sends medical students as part of their training, giving them a unique experience they might not get in a different healthcare facility, according to Matthew Christiansen, M.D., the president of EMO’s board of directors. Christiansen said he “grew up” as a doctor at Ebenezer, first coming to the clinic as a medical student, then as a resident and then serving as the medical director before becoming the board president last month.

“It gives them a really interesting opportunity to see a group of people who normally wouldn’t have healthcare,” Christiansen said. “We see issues that are left for a very long time, and they finally find us and we’re able to intervene. A lot of times these aren’t people who have had routine primary care for their entire life.

“The patients here are very thankful and are very grateful for the things that we do because there really are no other options for a lot of people. It’s great to allow medical students and residents to train in an environment where they see the need of healthcare in such an underserved population. It makes a big difference not only from the medical side but also from the moral and ethical side. It’s a whole different set of medical teaching, and our patients teach us just as much as we teach them.”

EMO serves uninsured and underinsured patients at its location at 1448 10th Ave., and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter and Facebook @megosborneHD.

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