The Douglas County Dental Clinic is searching for new leadership after its director submitted his resignation.
Jason Wesco, who has directed the clinic for two years, will leave March 15 to become director of community development for the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved in Topeka.
"This is a great job and a great place to work," Wesco said of the clinic. "I wasn't looking for the new job, but it came looking for me. It's definitely going to be difficult to leave."
Wesco was the second full-time director for the clinic, which began seeing patients in 2000. It currently is at 4920 Bob Billings Parkway, where two full-time dentists and a part-time dentist see the uninsured.
During Wesco's tenure, the clinic has doubled its annual budget to around $500,000, gained United Way agency status, increased the number of patients seen from 2,600 to 5,000 a year and increased staff from five to 12.
"I don't think we're seeing the end of that need," Wesco said. "I think the community is still growing, and it's not just people moving here who have money. I don't see the population growth stopping, and we'll always have more people here who are eligible."
Karen Shumate, president of the clinic's board of directors, said possible replacements were already being considered.
"He leaves big shoes to fill," she said. "His passion kind of rubs off on everybody. He has a personal mission to help the needy."
Wesco said the real credit for the clinic's success went to those who worked for years to make it a reality.
"They just had the idea in 1998, with no money and nothing but good intentions," he said. "You take a group of people with a good idea and six years down the road and you're bursting at the seams. It says good things about the community."