'Sign Up, Pay Down' Initiative Awards $200,000 to Five Virginia Dental Safety-Net Clinics to Support Dentist Recruitment

Clinics leverage funds to offer student loan repayment and signing bonuses to dentists in exchange for a two-year commitment

June 13, 2023

Media contact: Jeremy Butterfield, jeremy.butterfield@deltadentalva.com

RICHMOND, Va. — A four-partner collaboration anchored by the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) and the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation recently launched “Sign Up, Pay Down,” a $200,000 initiative to help address the significant recruitment challenges facing Virginia’s dental safety-net clinics as they seek dentists in a competitive market.

“These practices have not had the financial wherewithal to supplement the salaries they offer with the enhancements needed in a highly competitive market,” explained VHCF Executive Director Debbie Oswalt. “As a result, safety-net clinics are challenged to hire the dentists they need to provide dental care to some of the most vulnerable Virginians.”

As a result of the Sign Up, Pay Down program, a $40,000 recruitment package was awarded to five dental safety-net clinics selected via a competitive process. Each package includes $20,000 in student loan repayment and a $20,000 signing bonus in return for a two-year practice commitment. United Concordia Dental Company issued a $50,000 challenge grant to ignite this initiative and DentaQuest, a Sun Life Company, matched it. The Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation contributed $100,000 through its dental loan repayment program.

The five clinics selected include:
  • New Horizons Healthcare (Roanoke)
  • Eastern Shore Rural Health System
  • Southern Dominion Health System (Lunenburg County)
  • Johnson Health Center (Amherst County)
  • Martinsville/Henry County Community Dental Clinic

Virginia’s dental safety net has emerged from the closures and constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinics are ready to provide a full array of services to meet the significant patient demand. Dentist recruitment accelerated even more last summer, when Medicaid dental payment rates increased.  

“Dental health professional shortage areas can be found throughout Virginia and we’re eager to collaborate with community partners to help boost the recruitment efforts of our region’s safety-net clinics and help them meet the demand for oral health professionals throughout the state,” said Polly Raible, Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation Executive Director. The Sign Up, Pay Down program will have a direct, positive impact on the number of low-income children and adults who have access to dental care in the commonwealth.”

To date, VHCF has invested $17+ million to help establish or expand 54 dental safety-net practices. 

About Delta Dental of Virginia

Established in 1964, Delta Dental of Virginia is the largest dental benefits provider in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Delta Dental of Virginia provides high-quality, cost-effective dental plans to more than two million members. Through its foundation, Delta Dental of Virginia has donated millions of dollars to improve the oral health of Virginians.

Delta Dental of Virginia is a member of the national Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA). Since 1954, the DDPA has worked to improve oral health nationally. Delta Dental member companies serve more than 83 million people in more than 152,000 groups across the nation.

About Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation

Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation is committed to improving the oral health of all Virginians. Created in 2012 by Delta Dental of Virginia, the Foundation supports education, program development and community partnership initiatives that help create healthy smiles in Virginia through improved access to oral health care, education and research.