The building that houses the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic has a new name and an updated look following more than $3 million in renovation work to its 61-year-old building on North Lime Street in the city.

Now known as the Sam and Dena Lombardo Health Pavilion, the building has a freshly painted exterior and a two-story daylight atrium with an elevator to take people to the main floor.

Sam and Dena Lombardo, of Lititz, donated $750,000 to the project’s fundraising campaign that has raised nearly $4 million. Sam Lombardo is chairman and CEO of The Benecon Group and ConnectCare3. He also owns Lombardo’s restaurant in Lancaster city.

“Wear and tear on the building had gotten to the point where it was just really getting in the way,” David Foulk, the clinic’s development director, said.

Each year the clinic sees an average of 2,500 patients with cleft lip and palate as well as 2,500 patients with other specialized needs such as autism or rare genetic diseases. Foulk said patients could expect to wait three to six months for an appointment.

With the renovations, the clinic doubled its number of patient treatment spaces, which will help shorten wait times for appointments. He said rooms now have sound-reducing doors and walls to deafen noises that might impact children and their families.

Additionally, to comply with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for dental care, all of the clinic’s orthodontic rooms are now private.

The clinic’s main entrance was moved to the rear of the building to make it easier for children in strollers or wheelchairs to enter. The new entrance is closer to handicapped-accessible parking spaces on a parking lot that will be repaved.

The building at 223 N. Lime St. was built in 1960 and served as the county’s Social Security and unemployment office until the clinic moved in during the mid-1980s.

Founded in 1938 by local orthodontist Herbert Cooper, the clinic was the first independent clinic in the world dedicated exclusively to the treatment of cleft lip and palate, according to its website. Treatment was originally conducted from Cooper’s home at 26 N. Lime St.

A cleft lip and palate typically occur during pregnancy when a baby’s lip or roof of the mouth don’t form completely. Foulk said treatment for the condition starts in early childhood and continues for about 20 years.

The clinic is one of only three in Pennsylvania that offers all aspects of cleft treatment including orthodontists, dentists, speech therapists and audiologists.

“Our board of directors decided it was time to really bring the quality of our building up to the quality of care that we give to our patients,” Foulk said.

Plans for renovation were already underway when Pennsylvania Department of Transportation workers broke a water main and flooded the clinic in October 2019. The damages merely kickstarted the project, Foulk said.

However, construction halted when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the clinic’s operations. For three months, Foulk said the clinic could only provide emergency services.

Early in the pandemic, Gov. Tom Wolf also mandated a pause in construction that resumed just three weeks later for medical facilities.

How to donate

The Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic at the Sam and Dena Lombardo Health Pavilion is still accepting donations toward its “Faces of Change” capital campaign through the end of the year. Donations can be made at 

The Lombardos have donated twice to the “Faces of Change” capital campaign, with their first gift being $250,000. They donated another $500,000 last year when the campaign slowed during the pandemic. Both are matching donations.

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