Palm Beach State College held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, May 16 for its new, high-tech $50 million Dental & Medical Services Technology Building on its Loxahatchee Groves campus.
Construction is set to begin next month on the four-story, 83,500-square-foot building, which will be part of the Frank DiMino Center for Medical Innovation and include a fully equipped dental clinic, a surgical technology suite, and science labs that incorporate cutting-edge equipment and technology for students pursuing careers as dental hygienists, dental assistants, surgical technologists and other healthcare occupations.
The event — held during the college’s 90th anniversary year — was attended by more than 150 guests, including representatives from the college, Palm Beach County and the surrounding communities.
The building will be the new location of PBSC’s dental program that currently is housed in a 60-year-old structure on the Lake Worth campus. It will provide modern dental labs and a clinic where students will train, as well as provide low-cost preventive dental care to the community, including cleanings, dental screenings and dental health workshops. The new clinic will also provide a venue for advanced training for licensed dentists and hygienists.
“This day has been long awaited,” said Kimberly Lancaster, dean of academic affairs for the Loxahatchee Groves campus. She introduced PBSC President Ava Parker and former President Dr. Dennis Gallon to the crowd, adding that this would not have been possible without their visions and guidance.
“It’s the foundation of our dental program that brought us here today,” Parker said. “That was a program we wanted to expand and modernize and make available to more members of our community. In addition, we could almost do everything at this campus, but we didn’t have any wet labs, so what’s special about this building is that it will allow any of our students to choose Lox Groves as their home campus to earn their full AA degree.”
PBSC Board of Trustees Chair Carolyn Williams noted the history of the campus, which began with 700 students in 2017, growing to 6,000 today. “From the beginning, the Loxahatchee Groves campus has specialized in preparing students for high-growth industries and supporting the workforce needs and trends of the central-western communities,” she said. “Now we break ground on what will be a launchpad for the future healthcare professionals so needed by local hospitals and dental and medical offices.”
Parker thanked former State Rep. Matt Willhite, along with Rachael Bonlarron, former PBSC executive director for community engagement, for helping secure the last $25 million needed for the project in Tallahassee.
“Getting that $25 million was very important,” Willhite said. “We are really in the center of the county right now for the growth that’s coming here. The communities around us are going to need dental care, which is so important.”
Garret Southern, senior vice president at Kaufman Lynn Construction, is leading the construction of the building. “I promised PBSC that the A-team was going to come out here and build for them to deliver an absolute stunning project and exceed expectations,” Southern said.