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Dallas dentist wins up to $1.2M in funding to reopen shuttered hospital

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Within the next year to 18 months, one Dallas dentist plans to use the up to $1.2 million in investor funding she won to reopen the former South Dallas-based Forest Avenue Hospital, the Dallas Morning News reports.

For Michelle Morgan, DDS, renovating the hospital was a personal decision. The 18,000-square-foot hospital, which closed in 1984, served as one of six Dallas facilities that employed black physicians and offered healthcare services to black patients at the beginning of the 20th century during and during segregation.

As a black physician herself, Dr. Morgan, 57, told the Dallas Morning News she's on a mission to improve South Dallas patients' access to care. She said the area has become a "medical desert" during the past few years due to a severe shortage of practicing physicians in the neighborhood, which also maintains one of Dallas County's highest rates of chronic disease.

"It's not just about business. This is home to me," Dr. Morgan said. "My goal is to first understand the community's overall health condition and then to make resources available by bringing doctors in to address those specific needs."

Dr. Morgan, who also owns a chain of Dallas-based dental clinics under the brand the Art of Dentistry, purchased the shuttered hospital for $200,000 in 2016, and said she plans to bring in a suite of specialists to offer services such as dental, urgent care, podiatry and gerontology, among other services, according to the report.

Her project also caught the eye of several investors, leading her to win an initial $500,000 in funding from the Dallas-based nonprofit The Real Estate Council, which hosted a competition for funding modeled after the ABC television show "Shark Tank."

Dr. Morgan's bid was one of 30 entries submitted to the contest, in which five investors seeking to revitalize the South Dallas community reviewed proposals from local entrepreneurs. As the winner of the competition, Dr. Morgan received $100,000 investments from each investor. The five entrepreneurs also also promised an additional $700,000 in funding to cover cost overruns during construction, if needed.

As part of the investment deal, Dr. Morgan must aim to complete the project within the 12 to 18 months. Officials will also track her progress, the report states.

To read the full report, click here.

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