Local leaders, State Representatives and Defuniak Springs residents got a tour of a new dental school Thursday morning.
"This will be operational in March 2015; the kids will be here then,” said Doctor Durell Peaden, Clinical Dean for LECOM. “They will study here one year, and then they will be licensed to be dentists in Florida."
It's no accident that Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine is opening the school in Walton County.
Local leaders and physicians say there is a lack of sufficient oral health care in the Defuniak Springs region.
"There is an acute shortage of primary care physicians in the 30 counties surrounding us of Florida and also of dentist,” said Dr. Peaden. “Recognizing those issues and recognizing Florida is reaching 20 million people now and we only have two dental schools.
The new school will have a great economic impact on the community.
Local leaders are assessing potential accommodations for the 50 students, school staff members and all of their family members.
"As far as the housing, before I can comment on that we are going to have to do a feasibility study,” said Mayor of Defuniak Springs, Bob Campbell. “That will then give the probability of how many are going to come and exactly what their needs are."
The new facility will have close to 30 dental treatment rooms.
Students in their last year will be able to wait on patients, with the supervision of the professors.
The new dental school will be located on Coy Burgess Loop, where the Micro Spine Medical Plaza once operated.
The students coming to Defuniak Springs are currently studying at the LECOM campus in Bradenton.