Dr. Jeremy Crow’s top-tier equipment, elegant design and tireless altruistic streak make his locally minded West Virginia practice a major community asset.
FRESH OUT OF West Virginia University’s School of Dentistry in 2007, Dr. Jeremy Crow settled into his individual practice for the first time and began to shape the contours of a career dedicated not just to his everyday patients but to his state’s many underserved residents as well.
Years passed, and Crow Dental Associates was bursting at the seams. A two-day Benco Dental design workshop in 2014 at CenterPoint, the company’s Pittston, Pennsylvania, headquarters, spurred Dr. Crow to action, and in April 2017, he moved into a new 3,100-square-foot practice in Weirton, a small town squeezed between Ohio and Pennsylvania in the Mountain State’s northern panhandle. “The workshop was a catalyst,” he says. “I came open-minded and got lots of ideas, and that really encouraged me to move forward.”
Working closely with his Benco Dental team, meanwhile, he tricked out the new space’s seven treatment rooms with a variety of new digital equipment, too—a qualitative transformation that has helped him focus additional energy on treating the many in his state who lack adequate access to regular dental care.
West Virginia’s needs are acute: As of December 2017, according to the federal Health Resources & Services Administration, three out of four West Virginia residents live in “dental health professional shortages areas.” Likewise, 29 percent of West Virginians are covered only by Medicaid, the highest share of any state. But even stopgap care wasn’t helping them much. “No [dentists] in our area offered adult Medicaid,” Dr. Crow says. “Patients would have to drive to [WVU’s] dental school to get extractions. It’s an hour and a half away, and most of them can’t afford the gas to go that far.”
So he decided to begin accepting Medicaid—and now, two days a month, he and his team do nothing but treat local adults for whom it’s their only coverage. “We don’t make too much off these,” Dr. Crow says, “but we see a lot of patients on those days.”
Education is critical during such appointments, he notes. “We have a lot of good patients who will do whatever you tell them, but also a large group that only want to do the basic things, even if they need a root canal. [Their reticence] is mostly financial, but partly, they don’t understand the value of their teeth.”
To that end, Dr. Crow keeps both volunteerism and knowledge acquisition (by doctors and patients alike) among his top priorities. He has served in just about every cabinet position with the Wheeling District Dental Society and on the executive committee for West Virginia’s American Dental Association chapter, and he’s deeply involved with Spear Study Clubs. He’s also an occasional volunteer clinical faculty member at his alma mater and hosts students for rotations during their senior year. (Since 1997, WVU Dental has required its students to spend six weeks in rotations at Mountain State clinics that serve the needy—which enables Dr. Crow to help school the next generation of clinicians while fulfilling his self-imposed duties to West Virginians in need.)
It’s therefore no coincidence that he now sees some 100 new patients every month, up 50 percent from years prior. “Treat people right and do the best thing for them, and your practice will grow and always be better off in the long run,” Dr. Crow says. “You build people’s respect and gain their long-term commitment.” That’s how he drives dentistry forward, day by day by day: incorporating top-of-the-line equipment and elegantly functional design with a determination to bring treatment to some of America’s most dentally needy. “Within an hour you can make a world of difference for them,” he exults. “They’re smiling. They’re happy. And you know you’ve just changed their life.”