Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine has partnered with Jiao Tong University to sponsor AmeriChin, the first private orthodontic clinic in China's major business hub in Shanghai—and home to international corporations with employees and families from around the world.
AmeriChin, targeted to open in mid April, will be located in a downtown facility and will provide the orthodontic services that international and U.S. citizens are accustomed to in their home countries.
Currently, China has 3,000 orthodontists in a country of more than a billion people. "The number of practicing orthodontists is at the level it was in the early 1900s in the United States," according to Dr. Mark Hans, chair of orthodontics at Case Western Reserve dental school. "There is a niche to be filled in this partnership."
Hans estimates that AmeriChin will initially draw from approximately 40,000 members in the international community. Now, many people travel to Hong Kong to access orthodontic services. But as China continues to develop its global economy and more Chinese families move into the middle class, these families will start to seek services that enhance the quality of life. Orthodontics will be one area of services sought, Hans says.
Hans will share the title of co-director of the new clinic with Dr. Feng Bing, chair of orthodontics at the Ninth People's Hospital. Richard Griffith, a Case lecturer in orthodontics, will become AmeriChin's director of patient care, and Dr. Chi-Min "Jimmy" Teng, adjunct professor of orthodontics at Case who lives in Taipei, Taiwan, will coordinate logistics. Hans and Teng have worked on this project since 2003.
"There is nothing like this clinic in China," said Griffith. He will begin setting up operations in the clinic this March.
Griffith added that many Americans will feel at home in the clinic, which is designed to resemble private dental practices in the United States and Canada.
The two faculty members will be among the first American dentists to receive licenses in the People's Republic of China to practice orthodontics. They also are some of the first American orthodontists to join the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, the largest in the world with a membership of more than 1,500 companies and considered the leading international business association in the city.
Hans and Griffith will travel to China numerous times throughout the year to see patients to diagnose, form treatment plans and perform follow-up care. Continued monitoring of care will take place through videoconferencing for consults and for new patients with complex needs. Emergencies will be cared for by the hospital's orthodontic staff that includes Bing and three other orthodontists.
The clinic will be patterned much like the Case Western Reserve University orthodontic clinic with orthodontics students working with patients as part of their residency program. Case residents will also work in AmeriChin.
Through the partnership, services will be provided in both English and Mandarin Chinese and have a staff from both countries.
Hans and Griffith look forward to dynamic cultural exchanges between the two countries and universities. Over the past few years, the dental school's orthodontics department has built a strong relationship with dental schools in China by developing student exchanges and by providing continuing education opportunities for practicing dentists. Partnerships in orthodontics also exist between the university and professionals in Taiwan.
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