A collaboration between the Piedmont Regional Dental Clinic and Culpeper Wellness Foundation has transferred management of the clinic to the Foundation. After establishing and growing the clinic for more than a decade, founder Andre Hintermann approached the Foundation last fall to discuss an alliance to ensure continued access to low-cost oral health care for local residents, according to Foundation president Shari Landry.

Landry lauded Hintermann’s passionate commitment to regional oral care, saying, “He was tireless in advocating for a clinic that would make dental care available for those most in need. In addition to fundraising and purchasing the building in Orange that houses the clinic, he recently spearheaded an effort to renovate an area specifically for children’s dentistry.” Since opening, the clinic has provided thousands of Orange, Madison, Culpeper, Green and Louisa county children and adults with low-cost care, according to Landry.

Landry highlighted the importance of the clinic’s work supporting community health, pointing out that tooth decay and gum disease can lead to serious health problems, including brain or heart infections. Gum disease is also associated with diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In pregnant women, it is associated with premature births and low birth weight.

“The Foundation board was enthusiastic in its support. There was no question that the Foundation’s board sees oral health care as within our mission,” said Debbie Bennett, board chair. “We know that poor oral health has serious long term health consequences and results in unnecessary emergency room visits and costly care. The board voted unanimously to work with Mr. Hintermann and PRDC to do what we can to ensure the ongoing availability of dental care for everyone in our service area.”

Last week, Hintermann’s family foundation gifted the clinic building to the Foundation with an
agreement that the building must be used for the dental clinic as long as practical. If the building is ever sold, the proceeds must be used to support health and wellness in the community.

CWF president Shari Landry has been named the interim clinic director. Landry noted that the Orange-based clinic will continue to face a number of challenges going forward. “The measures in place to keep patients safe during the pandemic are costly and reimbursements are low,” she said. “The ongoing support of local donors and the community will be critical to the success of the clinic. The need for low-cost dental care is truly huge and we are confident that together we can make a difference one patient at a time.”

The mission of the non-profit Culpeper Wellness Foundation is to improve the health and promote wellness in Culpeper, Orange and Madison counties. The Foundation operates the Free Clinic of Culpeper, Powell Wellness Center, and Culpeper Sport & Fitness. In addition, the Foundation provide funding to other nonprofit organizations doing work aligned with its mission. CWF has provided financial support to PRDC in the past and has funded the cost of dental care for low income adults in Culpeper and Orange counties in partnership with the Culpeper and Orange Free Clinics and the Culpeper Winter Heat Shelter (www.culpeperwellnessfoundation.org)