Morehead State. to shut down free dental clinic, make room for mental health counseling

Published: Mar. 13, 2019 at 4:50 PM EDT
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Morehead State University is shutting down an oral health clinic that's been a staple on campus for five years.

"The revenue is just not paying for the service, and we've determined that we have a much higher need in mental health, and we're going to allocate these resources to hiring more mental health professionals," MSU Vice President Russell Mast explained.

Mast said the dental clinic saw a few hundred patients a year, but when he found out some students were waiting two to three weeks for mental health counselors, he said priorities had to change.

The university currently has two mental health counselors. By the time school starts back in the fall, they plan to have hired two more.

"We want to get students in as quickly as we can and help them in any way we can," Mast said.

Dakota Barr is a student at MSU. He said his family was so poor growing up in Eastern Kentucky, they could never afford a dentist.

"If I got a cavity, that was punishment because it was $140 my parents didn't have," Barr recalled.

Barr said the first time he had been to a dentist was when he enrolled at MSU. The clinic is free for students, has dental hygienists five days a week and a dentist one day a week for more serious matters.

"You have providers on this campus that solely treat college students, and so they've got a really unique perspective about health needs of college students that other providers just don't have."

Barr said university administration has been tight-lipped about discussing the future of the dental clinic. However, they were quick to sit down with WKYT. Mast said the grant that supported the clinic ran out two years ago. The university tried to keep the clinic going for two more years and ended up in the hole with a net loss of about $150,000 per year.

"We started looking last year at our dental program and our numbers regarding the number of students, and we realized we really have a need in mental health, and that's where we need to put our resources."

The dental clinic is scheduled to close in June.

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