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(LOXAHATCHEE GROVES, Fla. – Oct. 11, 2017) Palm Beach State College will build its new Dental & Medical Services Technology Building on its Loxahatchee Groves campus and relocate its long-standing, highly regarded dental health education programs to the 75-acre site.
The District Board of Trustees reached the unanimous decision during its regular meeting Tuesday after a recommendation from the College administration.
College leaders had contemplated building the facility on the Lake Worth campus, where the existing 55-year old structure is located. However, after analyzing the two sites and receiving input from faculty, staff, students and the community, the recommendation was to construct it on the Loxahatchee Groves campus.
“We’re excited about adding the dental building to the Loxahatchee Groves campus,’’ trustee Wendy Link said after the meeting. “It is in one of the fastest growing areas of the county, and this facility will complement the planned health sciences and technology focus of the campus.”
In June, the Florida Legislature allocated $5 million for the new facility that will allow PBSC to incorporate current and future technology required for the core components of the Dental Hygiene Associate in Science degree and the Dental Assisting postsecondary adult vocational certificate programs.
The programs, both established in 1964, are the only such programs in Palm Beach County accredited by the American Dental Association. The $5 million allows the College to begin the planning, but is far from the nearly $22 million that PBSC sought from the Florida Legislature and needs to complete the project. College leaders will pursue additional funds next year and seek support from the community.
PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D., said there were several major factors in the recommendation for the building location. They include the College’s interest in ensuring the Loxahatchee Groves campus has a medical focus and the strong support from the western communities.
“I’m pleased that there was great interest throughout the county in the placement for this particular program,’’ she said. “Having a Dental & Medical Services Technology Building is a positive for that campus. The number one job in the western communities is in a hospital or doctor’s office. The interest from the dentists and the interest from the hospitals was great, and they pledged their support for the programs.”
The current building is not only a training site for students, but it also provides continuing education for about 200 local dentists who are members of the Atlantic Coast Dental Research Clinic, which has been a partner of the College since 1964. Participating dentists of the nonprofit clinic provide low-cost dental treatment, including fillings, implants and oral surgery, to patients in the community, which also provides the required clinical training for the dental assisting students.
Dr. Randall Shults, a Wellington orthodontist, said he is pleased with the board’s decision. “I really support this move. The western communities’ dentists wholeheartedly support this move. There is a shortage of dental assistants in the western communities, and we perceive this move as great for the programs.”
Serving 49,000 students annually, Palm Beach State College is the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County, providing bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Established in 1933 as Florida's first public community college, Palm Beach State offers more than 130 programs of study at locations in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Belle Glade and Loxahatchee Groves.