One hundred years ago, philanthropist Morris Hirsch established the Morris Hirsch Clinic to provide outpatient medical services to those unable to afford care. A dental program was added to the clinic in 1929.
In 1956, Dr. Irving M. Goldstein, a dentist and former Chief of Staff at the Morris Hirsch Clinic, and Dr. Marvin Goldstein, his brother and successor, recognized the need to move the dental clinic from its location in downtown Atlanta. They enlisted the help of Ben Massell, one of Atlanta's premier builders and developers, who ultimately acquired a location on Pryor Street.
The clinic thrived in its new home for three years. But in 1959, urban renewal and eminent domain laws made it necessary for the clinic to move. Again, Ben Massell, with help from the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, secured the clinic a new home, this time on 7th Street in midtown Atlanta, where it remained for 49 years. In honor of his involvement, assistance and financial generosity, the clinic was renamed the Ben Massell Dental Clinic (BMDC).
From this two-story, 2,000 square-foot facility, the staff and all-volunteer dental force restored health and hope to an average of 6,000 patients each year for almost 50 years. It wasn't without its shortcomings, however. Two of the greatest challenges for staff and patients were insufficient parking and the lack of handicapped accessibility. Staff members often had to carry patients into the building and downstairs to the restrooms.
Additionally, in its latter years, the volunteer dentists were performing thousands of procedures with donated equipment that was outdated and worn. Even so, the clinic was honored nationally and internationally for its innovative model and for its dentists’ tangible devotion to accessible healthcare for underserved Atlantans.
In 2005, Gary Miller, former CEO of Jewish Family & Career Services, BMDC’s parent organization, took on the daunting task of bringing the clinic into the 21st Century. For three years, he championed the cause to some of the dental world and community's biggest leaders. He enlisted the help of Cathy Selig-Kuranoff, granddaughter of Ben Massell, to chair the capital campaign that would eventually top $5.5 million in monetary and in-kind capital and endowment funding.
The new BMDC "broke ground" on November 13, 2007. It was not a traditional ground-breaking, as an existing building had been purchased at 700 14th Street and then renovated. Construction was completed in October 2008.