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Oral surgery center taking over old SC Works building

Posted: July 23, 2018 4:04 p.m.
Updated: July 24, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Provided by Northeast Oral Surgery & Implant Center/

A rendering of what the former SC Works building on East DeKalb Street will look like when renovations to turn it into the Camden Oral Surgery & Implant Center are completed. Dr. Jeffery Dootson, who started the practice in 1993, said he hopes the center will be ready to open on October 1. The team also has offices on Two Notch Road in northeast Columbia and in Orangeburg.

For most of the summer, a lot of work has been done to remake SC Works’ former home on East DeKalb Street into something new. But, what?

The answer is the Camden Oral Surgery & Implant Center, the third and newest location of an oral and maxillofacial surgery practice that started in 1993 in northeast Columbia. Dr. Jeffrey Dootson started the Northeast Oral Surgery & Implant Center on Columbia’s Two Notch Road. Years later, the team -- which includes doctors Stephen Clary, Karen Tucker and James Strider Jr. -- opened a second office in Orangeburg.

Now, after realizing for many years that “a lot” of their northeast Columbia patients were coming from Camden and other parts of Kershaw County, Dootson said the time was right to open a third branch here.

“We’ve worked with Ken Carson, the Josephs, Cathy Moss and others for 25 years,” Dootson said during a telephone interview Friday. “We have some patients from Sumter, but they already have two oral surgeons there. We plan to serve the area surrounding Camden, including Bishopville.”

Dootson said having a Camden office will mean that patients here will have a shorter drive after being referred by their local dentists.

According to his biography on Oral Surgery & Implant Center’s website (www.neoralsurgery.com), Dootson earned his bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry and mathematics in 1975 from the University of Tampa. He then went on to serve with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division as a second lieutenant before going on to receive a doctorate of dental medicine at the University of Florida in 1980. He served in the Army for five years as a general dentist in Indianapolis, Ind.; San Antonio, Texas; and Seoul, Korea. Dootson completed his oral surgery training at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu in 1989, after which he served as the chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Fort Jackson until 1994.

Clary has practiced oral and maxillofacial surgery for 18 years and is the chief of dental services at Palmetto Health Baptist and Richland hospitals. He is also the co-director, with Dootson, of the S.C. Academy of Advanced Implant Studies. He received his bachelor’s of science in biology from Furman University. Like Dootson, Clary served as a general dentist in the U.S. Army (in Germany) and also worked at Fort Jackson.

Tucker, an Arizona native, attended Arizona State University with a full academic scholarship. There, she earned a bachelor’s of science in biochemistry and minored in Spanish, graduating with honors. Tucker later moved to the Midwest and earned her doctorate of dental surgery in 2011 from the Creighton University School of Dentistry. She, too, is a co-director of the S.C. Academy of Advanced Implant Studies. She also travels overseas on mission trips to provide cleft and craniofacial surgeries in underserved countries.

Strider received his bachelor’s of science degree in biology from the University of South Carolina in 1973 and his doctoral of medical dentistry from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1977. He, too, served in the Army, as chief of multiple Army oral surgery services. During his service, Strider received the Alpha designator and the Military Order of Medical Merit -- the highest career distinction for any doctor in the U.S. military.

Dootson said he and his team hope to open their new office on October 1, and re-emphasized that a lot of work has taken place to prepare for that opening.

“There was asbestos and the sewer totally caved in; it required a total re-do. Luckily, the city did their part and we’re very happy about that,” Dootson said.

He estimated the practice’s investment in the renovations at well more than $1 million, saying they are bringing in between $500,000 to $600,000 worth of equipment, paid approximately $350,000 for the building, and have spent about another $500,000 upfitting the building.

And that’s only to take over half the space.

“It’s 7,500 square feet and we’re going to use half of it and hope to rent the other half to a medical group or the hospital,” Dootson said. “It’s going to be a nice facility, nicer than the two we have now.”

That is intentional, he said, explaining that he hopes the investment will entice other business and/or property owners along East DeKalb Street to do the same, as well as new businesses to locate in downtown Camden. The exterior work, he said, has even included the removal of a barbed-wire fence in cooperation with Mid-Carolina Credit Union, which actually faces Mill Street.

Dootson’s also thinking about signage.

“We’d like to capture the look of the signage the city of Camden has installed,” he said. “Even the front entrance will be like a sliding horse barn door. We hope to have a nice impact on downtown Camden to spruce up the area.”

He, Clary, Tucker and Strider will all take time to work out of the Camden office, which Dootson said will be open five days a week, although an exact schedule hasn’t been drawn up yet.

The new office’s address is 207 East DeKalb St. A phone number has yet to be assigned, but patients and others who want to know more can call the northeast office at (803) 699-5900.

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