Dundee renewed

While many teaching programmes have undergone a significant shift to virtual learning, in the City of Discovery a physical space is being transformed

14 February, 2022 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

The refurbishment of Dundee Dental Hospital & School is continuing apace, and Scottish Dental magazine has been given a preview of the most recently completed phase of their renewal.

Having undertaken the last significant refurbishment of the Prosthodontics Clinic, in 2012, and more recently, the Paediatric Dentistry/Orthodontic Clinic, in 2019, the facilities in the rest of the building were in poor condition, said those involved in the initiative.

A number of chairs were not working – either hydraulics, upholstery or handpiece attachments – and the cabinetry required regular repairs because of its age. Some of the equipment was also deemed at ‘end of life’, with spare parts for repairs difficult to source no longer available.

“The aim,” said Dr Brian Stevenson, Joint Clinical Director, Consultant and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Restorative Dentistry, “was to provide 53 high quality dental units for undergraduate teaching, postgraduate training, and clinical service. We explored changing the configuration of the units and concluded that the existing provided the best outcome in terms of space and number of dental chairs.

“We invited all the major manufacturers to visit and submit a tender for the ‘turnkey’ project meaning that they would undertake all electrical, plumbing, flooring aspects as well as chairs and cabinetry. The planning also had to take account the recent IPC 4 Nations guidance which was updated during the planning.”

Professor Grant McIntyre, Joint Clinical Director, Consultant and Honorary Professor in Orthodontics, added: “By the end of this project, we will have refurbished 80 per cent of the clinical space in three years and will have a building that has some of the best facilities in the UK. Our attention will then turn to refurbishing the next clinical area, the ground floor entrance area, the Clinical Skills simulation facility, and the dental laboratories – all over the next few years.

“Dundee has been consistently in the top three of the dental school league tables in recent years. Retaining our reputation is important, but improving our standing is one of our objectives. We not only attract students from the UK, EU and rest of the world, but we also have a diverse staff group with many members recruited from the local and UK population and many international, having come to Dundee and remaining here for the duration of their career.”

Brian and Grant are Joint Clinical Directors of Dundee Dental Hospital and School and have been closely involved in its rolling refurbishment. Funding for the latest phase was sought in 2019 and, though the pandemic meant a delay in undertaking the work, it was recognised that the issue of aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) would be a significant  consideration in the need to  replace older dental units.

Once outline funding was secured for the programme, the major supply companies were invited to survey and submit tenders. These were evaluated, using a using a rigorous scoring system, prior to the tender being awarded to Wrights and Dentsply Sirona.

“Once funding was secured, COVID did not have any significant impact, except for social distancing for the contractors,” said Brian. “NHS Tayside and the Scottish Government have funded pods for AGPs, screens and ventilation and these aspects have been incorporated in the overall project running in parallel to the refurbishment.”

By the end of summer this year, the second and third floors (Conservation/Periodontology) had been ripped out, and new cabinetry and dental chairs  fitted. On the first floor (Oral Surgery/Sedation) and on the second floor (Integrated Oral  Care), the dental chairs have  been replaced.

Snagging was under way during the autumn, with the painting of all areas to follow.  Installation of the new pods, developed by Dundee-based StarnIPC, screens and ventilation came next, to be followed soon by the redevelopment of the ground floor reception area.

Looking ahead, planning will begin for the refurbishment of the fourth Floor (Prosthodontics) and the dental laboratories. “We intend to develop our portfolio of postgraduate programmes in the school but using the hospital facilities for clinical teaching,” explained Grant.

While the work has, for the team, been gratifying for its physical manifestation, unsurprisingly in today’s world of learning there will be an equally important virtual element. “We have an ambitious plan in parallel with our 4D undergraduate curriculum – Dentistry at Dundee Driven by Discovery – that aims to deliver 3D – Digital Dentistry for Dundee – through a transition to digital laboratory work for both the service and teaching elements across the hospital and school,” said Brian.

“We have initiated work on refurbishing the Clinical Skills Laboratory and a key part of this will involve digital teaching and scope for online learning in partnership with the University of Dundee and NHS Education for Scotland (NES).

“The ‘Attend Anywhere’ platform offers virtual appointments to patients but has been modified to allow students to observe and participate in virtual consultations, and dedicated equipment and space is needed to undertake these types of appointments.”

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