A local healthcare provider in Orange County finalized a significant shift in management at the end of January as it begins the next chapter in its decade-long history. The Piedmont Regional Dental Clinic (PRDC) has transferred its assets into the care of the Culpeper Wellness Foundation (CWF), a nonprofit organization who’s stated mission is to “improve health and promote wellness in Culpeper, Madison and Orange counties.”
PRDC was founded in 2010 by retired banker and Greene County resident Andre Hintermann. The clinic has been providing patients in the region with low-cost dental care since its inception.
Hintermann moved to Central Virginia 20 years ago, planning to retire there with his wife. While exploring his new community, he noticed a lack of affordable dental health services. He had already been a financial supporter of the Orange and Madison County free clinics for a number of years and decided to purchase a building on Route 15 next to the Colonial Square shopping center to serve as the future home of PRDC. The clinic has been based in the building since 2011.
Citing the logistical challenges of COVID-19 and his age, Hintermann explained his decision to step back from the organization he created and bring in CWF to be its new supervisors.
“I met a few months ago with the Culpeper Wellness Foundation and made them the proposal of donating the building and all of the equipment, which belongs to my foundation,” Hintermann said. “I said, ‘it’s all yours.’”
Not unlike when he founded PRDC, Hintermann again saw a gap in the healthcare services provided by CWF and sought to fill it.
“We were a natural fit with the foundation because they do a lot of good, but they had nothing in the way of oral care,” he said.
Shari Landry, president of CWF, will lead the effort to help PRDC offer care to an even wider group of uninsured and Medicaid-enrolled adults and children.
“The transition is complete,” Landry said. “But the important thing to remember is Piedmont Regional Dental Clinic will continue to be an independent nonprofit based in Orange. The wellness foundation is simply going to be providing management and leadership support. So, we are additive. We aren’t replacing anything.”
Landry emphasized that PRDC’s current staff of dentists, assistants and hygienists will remain with the clinic and day-to-day operations will look much the same as before.
“There hasn’t been a clinic director at Piedmont for about a year,” Landry said. “So, we are going to be recruiting and hiring one. I’ll head the search for that position.”
According to a press release by the CWF issued on Feb. 17, there were some conditions involved in the transfer agreement between the two parties.
“Last week, Hintermann’s family foundation gifted the clinic building to the [CWF] with an agreement that the building must be used for the dental clinic as long as practical,” the release stated. “If the building is ever sold, the proceeds must be used to support health and wellness in the community.”
On Feb. 9, Hintermann addressed the Orange County Board of Supervisors at their meeting to announce the transition. He was backed by former 30th District Delegate, Ed Scott, who serves on CWF’s board of directors as treasurer. Scott spoke enthusiastically about Hintermann’s character and his positive impact on so many of the underserved and disadvantaged people in his community through PRDC.
“Mr. Hintermann made things very easy, because it’s an extremely generous offer on his part,” Scott said in an interview. “Our consideration, as the wellness foundation, was did it fit within our mission and interest in health and wellness in Culpeper, Madison and Orange? The name says Culpeper, but the focus is much broader than one county. I felt if we don’t do this, who will? We certainly don’t want the clinic to go away and we hope to grow it.”
Part of that growth has already been in the works for some time. The clinic has been renovating a section of its building (that formerly housed the Orange County Free Clinic) to function as a space for children’s dentistry.
“We are just waiting for a few pieces of equipment to come in to open that area.” Landry said. “We have a pediatric dentist who’s going to start coming to PRDC, a couple of days a month, in March. The area should be open no later than April 1.”
Additionally, Landry said addressing the drop in appointments and visits to PRDC during the initial surge of the pandemic is a top priority of CWF.
“COVID has certainly posed some challenges around how to stagger patients in order to keep an appropriate distance between people and also costs related to the personal protective equipment staff need to wear,” she said. “Also, people’s hesitancy to go to a public place and even medical or dental facilities has been an issue. The foundation will be working with the staff at PRDC to support their outreach efforts. As we hire a new director, that will be a very big part of their responsibilities.”
Scott mentioned the pandemic has prevented him and the rest of CWF’s board and staff from celebrating Hintermann’s contributions in person.
“At some point, we will definitely want to have an appropriate thank you for Mr. Hintermann, for all he’s done. It’s probably a little way into the future right now.”
When discussing her optimism about the partnership between the organizations, Landry said she is excited to be able to reach families in the region who may not be aware of what CWF and PRDC can do for them.
“Dental care is so critical to overall health, so that’s a key part of our mission,” she said. “Because we run the free clinic of Culpeper, we see the impact of poor dental care and limited access for people. Then you add onto it a founder like Andre entrusting us with this organization he built from scratch. It feels so good to have him see us as being able to take his vision to the next level. He set the bar high for us, now it’s our job to exceed it.”