KCC Dental Clinic upgrades include new patient chairs, improved workflow

KCC Dental Hygiene student Alexis Kosten works on “patient” and Dental Hygiene student Addie Etelamaki during class in KCC’s Dental Hygiene Clinic.

Editor’s note: The following article first appeared on page 4 of the May 12, 2016, edition of the Battle Creek Shopper News.

Kellogg Community College students and community members alike are benefiting from the most significant upgrades to the college’s Dental Hygiene Clinic in two decades.

Updates at the clinic – through their educational program, Dental Hygiene students provide dental services to the public – include 10 dental units, new flooring and renovations that have significantly improved efficiency and workflow since completed in August.

The new dental units include new patient chairs, new unit arms with suction and water functionality, new ergonomic operator stools for the student hygienists and new LED overhead lights, updates KCC Dental Hygiene Director Bridget Korpela said were much needed to bring dated equipment up to the standards of a modern dental environment. The old equipment was well-cared for, she said, but was starting to fail in increments.

“Any time any of that equipment breaks down we have 10 students that are relying on that for their learning experience,” Korpela said. “If you lose an appointment because your equipment doesn’t work, then that’s an imposition on the student, it’s an imposition on the patient, and things can’t happen for learning like they should.”

The older lighting systems would dim over time, for example, or need to be repaired completely, leaving students with little or no light for their appointments. In some cases, patient chairs would actually get stuck with patients lying down in an up position off the floor, and patients would have to climb out. The new equipment, Korpela said, removes such issues from the learning environment.

“Students can rely on it; the aggravation level goes away and you can focus on learning,” Korpela said. “You don’t have to be concerned and stressed about equipment not working.”

The changes haven’t gone unnoticed by the college’s second-year Dental Hygiene students, who used the old equipment in the clinic through their first year in the program and have been using the new equipment though the current academic year. Second-year Dental Hygiene student Lauren Rubley, who graduated in May, said in addition to making work easier on students, the equipment does a better job of serving their patients.

“The chairs themselves have presets, they’re a lot smoother, and the light just turns itself on,” Rubley said. “We get a lot of elderly patients in and a lot of disabled patients in, and there’s a huge benefit just in how the chairs lay back easier.”

She also noted the option to adjust the headrest of the new chairs so that patients in wheelchairs can just back their wheelchairs to the headrest; previously such patients had to be transferred to the dental chair or students would have to try and make space in their station to actually work on the patients in their wheelchairs.

“It makes it better to work on all patients, and also patients like it a lot,” Rubley said. “We get a lot of rave reviews.”

Adding to the benefits afforded by the dental units are new flooring and renovations that included moving the clinic’s sterilization center – where students clean their instruments – from a station in the center of the clinic to another room. Even though the clinic itself hasn’t expanded, Korpela said the room looks much bigger.

“The perception is that it’s much bigger, which is helpful for everybody, to feel like you have more room,” Korpela said. “And when you move that sterilization area, too, that combination really opened it up.”

The bulk of the updates to the KCC Dental Hygiene Clinic have been funded through a packages of resources bundled together via the state’s Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program, which provided KCC with $2.1 million last year for new equipment to make student and worker training more efficient in the communities served by the college. CCSTEP funds totaling approximately $157,000 were utilized for the Dental Hygiene Clinic upgrades, along with a 25 percent funds match of approximately $40,000 paid for by the college.

Dr. Jan Karazim, dean of Workforce Development at KCC and project manager for general oversight of KCC’s CCSTEP initiatives, praised the program for making it possible to equip KCC’s Dental Hygiene Program with “current and relevant technology used in contemporary dental practices.”

“The purpose of CCSTEP is to enhance occupational education and training offered through Michigan community colleges by helping these institutions purchase equipment that helps them prepare skilled workers to fill current and projected labor needs in Michigan,” Karazim said. “KCC’s Dental Hygiene graduates are entering a high-wage, high-demand career field where the recent updates to their Dental Hygiene Clinic will serve them well when entering the modern work environment.”

For more information about KCC’s Dental Hygiene Clinic, including a list of services offered to community patients, visit www.kellogg.edu/dental-clinic. For more information about KCC’s Dental Hygiene Program, visit www.kellogg.edu/dentalhygiene or contact KCC’s Admissions office at adm@kellogg.edu or 269-965-4153.

For more information about new equipment purchased through CCSTEP funds for KCC, click here.

Pictured in the above photo, KCC Dental Hygiene student Alexis Kosten works on “patient” and Dental Hygiene student Addie Etelamaki during class in KCC’s Dental Hygiene Clinic.