The Good Shepherd Community Clinic is expanding access to low-income adult and pediatric dental care with the addition of a new, full-time dentist.
Over the last 23 years, the clinic has grown from a small volunteer clinic serving 85 medical and dental patients to a full-time Community Health Center serving over 3,000, CEO Teresa Myers said.
With Dr. Terrick Washington serving as Good Shepherd’s first-ever full-time dentist, the clinic will now be able to address dental needs more thoroughly and prevent issues before they happen, she said.
“To be what we wanted to become we had to provide that for our patients,” Myers said.
Myers said Good Shepherd had been looking to hire a full-time dentist for 18 months before they discovered Washington, who grew up in Ardmore and whose father practices dentistry nearby.
“I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to return home and  give back to the community that shaped us,” Washington said in a press release. “I am proud to serve the patients at the Good Shepherd and excited to provide much needed oral health care to those who might not be able to otherwise afford dental treatment.”
Washington graduated from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Dentistry this summer, Myers said. But it wasn’t just his degree that made him the perfect candidate.
“We met him and his personality is pretty infectious. He has such a servant heart,” Myers said. “We look for that when we hire people — somebody that’s going to really care about our patients and respect who they are no matter what may surround them, life circumstances, choices, whatever.”
Washington became a part of the team in June, Myers said. Prior to his arrival, the clinic’s dental wing was run mainly by volunteer dentists who only did tooth extractions on Tuesday nights.
“We did hundreds every year, but that doesn’t solve the root cause of what’s going on,” Myers said.
Now, the clinic is able to offer oral health education and instruction, oral examinations, hygiene services, diagnosis and treatment for tooth decay. Dental exams for children will also be available for the first time ever beginning in August, Myers said.
“We were an adult-only practice for a long, long time. But now we can see kids, so this is a really big deal,” Myers said.
With comprehensive medical, dental and pharmaceutical services all available in one building, Myers said the clinic can now better address patient transportation issues, as well.
“There may be some limited access to those kinds of things,” Myers said. “We just wanted to get ahead of the curve. It was about our patients that we already served needing to get ahead of their problems.”