Marshfield Clinic has scrapped a plan to build Wisconsin’s second dental school and will return a $10 million state grant for the project. The clinic received the funding in 2010 to construct a new training facility in Marshfield for dentists who commit to working in rural areas.
Dr. Brian Ewert is Marshfield Clinic’s Executive Director. He says the grant required the facility to be built in Marshfield. “And over the ensuing four years we have discussed how would that facility help us achieve our mission? And as we looked at that issue over the last several months, the conclusion was we can achieve our mission without going down the path of building that particular facility.”
Dr. Ewert says they will continue to be part of the programs they are in, but will not become a degree granting institution. He says they want to be good stewards of their money. He said they have a residency program in place that will help rural dentistry. “That’s where we see the dental residency addressing that issue. We just started the program in July, we had two positions open, we had two dental residents come into the program, that program can grow.”
Marshfield Clinic now has nine rural dental clinics, including facilities in Rhinelander and Park Falls. Dr. Ewert says the rural clinics will not be affected. “In terms of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, the Family Health Center and Marshfield Clinic, we remain committed to the dental clinic in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. This particular decision made by the Clinic board yesterday affects one component of our overall dental initiative.”
Dr. Ewert says other programs will continue as they have, just without a new dental school. The clinic’s health insurance arm, Security Health Plan, had agreed to put up a ten million dollar matching grant for the proposed dental school. Those funds will be returned to the insurance firm.