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

For Immediate Release
Debbie Oswalt, Executive Director
Virginia Health Care Foundation
(804) 828-5804






“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.

RICHMOND, Va. (June 13, 2023) – 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.

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About Virginia Health Care Foundation
The Virginia Health Care Foundation is a non-profit public/private partnership with a mission to increase access to primary health care for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians. The Foundation was initiated by the General Assembly and its Joint Commission on Health Care in 1992. Since its inception, it has funded 524 community-based initiatives throughout the Commonwealth. VHCF’s programs and partnerships have touched the lives of more than 800,000 uninsured Virginians. For more information about VHCF and its programs, visit www.vhcf.org or call (804) 828-5804. 

About Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation
The 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. Visit deltadentalva.com/foundation to learn more.

About DentaQuest
DentaQuest, part of Sun Life U.S., is a purpose-driven health care company dedicated to improving the oral health of all. As the nation’s largest and most experienced Medicaid dental benefits administrator, we manage dental and vision benefits for more than 35 million Americans. DentaQuest has covered Medicaid enrollees in Virginia for the past 18 years, providing more than 2 million people with dental benefits that cover a range of preventive and restorative care. Our local team partners with community organizations focused on initiatives to improve oral health and access to care for all Virginians. We do this through Preventistry® — our inclusive approach to quality care and expanded access built on trusted partnerships between patients, providers and payors. Our outcomes-based, cost-effective dental solutions are designed for Medicaid and CHIP, Medicare Advantage, small and large businesses, and individuals. Learn more at www.DentaQuest.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

About United Concordia Dental Charitable Fund
The United Concordia Dental Charitable Fund is focused on providing grants supporting health care needs of communities we serve. Giving efforts focus on three priorities that align with our mission: workforce development initiatives and programs focused on oral health, dental care for the uninsured and underinsured, and diversity and inclusion initiatives, including oral health equity.



Last Updated on February 2, 2024