Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic broke ground Tuesday on a new dental clinic building that is part of their ambitious Health Education Campus, opening in the summer of 2019.

The three-story, 126,000-square-foot structure will provide School of Dental Medicine students a spacious, state-of-the art environment in which to treat patients under the supervision of dental faculty. More, it will give patients a far more visible and conveniently located place for dental care than the current site.

“Congratulations to Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic for this partnership and … a special congratulations to the residents of Hough,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson told the crowd. “… Whenever we have major institutions that are able to connect with people, and connect with people in ways that enhances their quality of life and provides for them services that they may need, that is a good partnership.”

The new dental clinic parcel is directly north of the main Health Education Campus (HEC) building. Construction on that 485,000-square-foot structure, designed by renowned London architects Foster & Partners, began in 2015; both buildings will be ready to welcome students in two years.

“This building will enhance the education of all of our health sciences students, because each discipline has much to teach—and learn from—one another,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “Just as important, it will contribute to the health and well-being of thousands of patients in our community. We are deeply grateful to everyone involved in helping us reach this momentous day.”

The hospital and university announced a collaboration for a joint medical education building in 2013, but soon expanded that vision to include dental and nursing students. With team-based care increasingly common in hospitals and other settings, the two organizations saw great value in preparing future providers within a single space—rather than the current practice of separate buildings for each school.

The open design of the larger structure expressly encourages interaction, so that students not only will be in some classes together, but also dine and study in shared spaces. The building also will feature cutting-edge technology, including the use of Microsoft HoloLens in place of cadavers for anatomy courses.

“Cleveland Clinic considers it a great privilege to have donated the land for both the Dental Clinic and Health Education Campus,” said Toby Cosgrove, MD, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic. “It reflects our ongoing commitment to improving the health and quality of life for the people of the Hough and Fairfax neighborhoods. We believe that everyone deserves access to necessary health services, including dental medicine.”

In addition, Cleveland Clinic announced the development of a recreational park providing access to the neighboring children and their parents.

“The primary mission here will be to deliver high-quality, low-cost dental services to the community. But that won’t be all,” added Dr. Cosgrove. “Something unexpected happened in the planning stage that expanded our vision. People who visited the site heard the voices of young people. They saw children playing basketball in the street. We realized that these young people needed a safer place to play. We are pleased to join with the Famicos Foundation and Hough Development Corporation, and we’ll be building a new park for exercise and play.”

Initially the dental clinic was within the main building, but moving it across the street allowed for a much larger space, as well as room to expand for instruction in more advanced or elaborate treatments. Architects from DLR Group|Westlake Reed Leskosky designed the structure.

Rendering of the CWRU/Cleveland Clinic dental clinic renderingThe new location also offers parking adjacent to the clinic, a significant improvement over the more distant parking options for the current clinic. In addition, patients sometimes had difficulty finding the current clinic nestled along a driveway surrounded by multiple taller buildings.

Even with those challenges, roughly 19,000 patients seek treatment at the dental school’s clinic each year—and more than 11,000 of the total are Cleveland residents. The clinic charges rates roughly 40 to 60 percent lower than traditional dental offices, and also accepts Medicaid.

The dental school has a strong tradition of community engagement; since 2001, for example, students have conducted dental exams and provided sealants to thousands of Cleveland school children in grades 2, 3 and 6. More recently the school launched Lifelong Smiles, a mobile dental clinic that serves elderly patients at assisted living residential day programs in Cleveland and other locations.

“The potential of this clinic to enhance the health of our community—through patient treatment and educational outreach—is truly exceptional,” School of Dental Medicine Dean Kenneth B. Chance said. “We cannot wait to be in this new location where our faculty and students can have greater impact and connection with the people we serve.”