First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON - Dr. J.C. Hill was not quite ready to retire his dental instruments.
After more than 40 years in the business, he felt compelled to help others.
Hill's ambition to provide dental care led him to Robeson County. He accepted the dental position at the CI Smith Family Dental Practice in Lumberton about two months ago.
“I really liked the area when I came here,” Hill said. “I was really impressed with the people and liked what I saw here.”
Hill's decision was welcome news for Robeson Health Care Corporation. Company officials had searched extensively for a new dentist for the past two years.
The CI Smith dental office temporarily closed in October of 2003 after the former dentist, Dr. Tracie Williams, took a job with another dental office. The corporation's search for a dentist was a challenging process due to the lack of available applicants.
Recent market surveys have shown that Robeson County is about 12 dentists short of filling the dental needs of the county.
Hill knew the situation when he applied. The former college football player at Lenoir Rhyne College responded to the need like he has for the past four decades.
Hill started his dental career in 1961 after graduating from the UNC Chapel Hill Dental School. Robeson County is one of several areas with dental shortages that he has served since retiring from his private practice in Hickory in 1997.
Vallie Tucker said the veteran dentist brings a high level of professional standards to the dental practice. She has worked there as a dental hygienist since it opened nearly five years ago.
“It just feels good to go home at the end of a day and know you have helped people who ordinarily wouldn't get help,” Tucker said.
Hill and Tucker are part of a staff of six employees who operate the dental practice. There are also two dental assistants, an office manager and an office assistant.
Tucker has been there from the beginning. The Fairmont resident has seen the modern facility grow immensely since its inception in September of 2000.
She still remembers when the equipment was installed in the three state of the art operatories that fall. By January of 2001, the office's comfortable waiting area started filling up with patients.
Willie Bryant was one of the first patients when the office opened. He said quality service and convenience attracted him to the center.
Bryant, like many local patients, can walk to the dental office. He was in the office Wednesday afternoon.
“I'm just glad they're here,” Bryant said. “Everything is fine now that they are back open. They do good work. I missed them when they were closed.”
Office employees said most of the patients have returned since the center reopened about 10 weeks ago.
The CI Smith dental center gladly insurance and Medicaid. The center also offers a sliding fee payment scale for low-income patients.
The CI Smith Family Dental Practice is at 800 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Lumberton. To schedule an appointment call (910) 738-4770.
– This article was contributed by Robeson Health Care.