A $50,000 gift from the Good Samaritan Foundation, Inc. to WKU’s Institute for Rural Health will bring more dental and medical services to underserved Kentucky areas, all while giving WKU students real life experience as future health professionals.

Matt Hunt, director of the Institute for Rural Health, said the gift will be used to purchase new replacement equipment and add to the educational experiences of WKU students.

Some of the equipment the IRH plans to purchase is a bone density machine, dental air compressor for portable field units, Isolite technology and CardioChek machines.

“Students who have access to the newest and best tools of their trade will be better equipped when they enter the workforce,” Hunt said. “This is essential to continue to provide the College of Health and Human Sciences students with the best educational experience and practical application.”

The Isolite system is dental technology that is placed in a patient’s mouth and serves multiple purposes, such as providing lighting, suction and other functions, IRH Dental Director Daniel Carter said.

Carter said he thinks the newly purchased system will help better prepare students for their future in the workforce.

“Since we help to train students who will become dental hygienists, it is important that they are exposed to the latest technologies in the field of dentistry,” Carter said.

The IRH also plans to use a portion of the money toward medical and dental needs for the community like flu shots, dental sealant and fluoride varnish program supplies.

“The IRH believes that students learn from every patient,” Hunt said. “The more patients that the IRH is able to see and treat, the more knowledge and real-world experiences the students of the CHHS receive as part of their education.”

John Bonaguro, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said the goal of IRH is to improve the health of residents in the community.

Bonaguro said the upgrades purchased will help to make the IRH equipment more portable, as wells as providing more than 1,200 doses of influenza vaccines to be given out for free to teachers, residents in public housing, seniors and for people in rural underserved areas.

Since 2001, the IRH has been partnering with school districts, housing authorities, nonprofits and local and health care providers.