TONOPAH — Good oral health is key to overall health and for residents in northern Nye County and the surrounding areas, accessing dental care just got easier.
The Tonopah Dental Center opened on Friday, Nov. 3, with representatives and supporters coming together to celebrate the community milestone.
Henderson-based dentist Dr. Dave Mahon, president of the Nevada Dental Foundation and a volunteer general dentist for the Tonopah Dental Center, welcomed the crowd and gave an overview of the history behind the project.
Years in the making
Tonopah has been without a dentist for many long years and the desire to see one return to the community has always been there. Three years ago, the Nevada Dental Foundation started its journey to fulfill that desire and after much dedicated effort, the concept has become a reality.
“It’s been three years in the works and I think we came out here two years ago, did a walk-thru and started working on the build-out. This was just an empty suite when we first came down,” Mahon stated, referring to the section of the building that now houses the dental clinic.
“Over that time period, we’ve reorganized the Nevada Dental Foundation, repopulated it with new officers who kind of breathed new life into it, got funding to get this thing off the ground. And then all of the logistics as far as building a clinic in a remote location, it’s been an experience. But we think, a very rewarding experience.”
Mahon noted that he is hopeful that the dental center will flourish but that can only happen if the community embraces the endeavor.
“This is going to depend on a strong partnership and buy-in with the community, for us to be sustainable,” he stated. “It definitely needs to be a strong relationship with the community and we hope to bring you the best dentistry that our state has to offer.”
Dr. Joseph Wineman, another member of the Nevada Dental Foundation and a volunteer general dentist for the Tonopah Dental Center, emphasized, “If you like us, use us. If you like us, review us. If you like us, share it with your friends and family, to make sure these things are available to them.”
Northern Nye County Hospital District board member Nancy Maslach seemed to feel that the dental center was on solid footing for a successful future.
“We are so thrilled that you’re here,” Maslach enthused. “Just give us some time to get the word out to Round Mountain and Fish Lake Valley and everybody around, you are open, you’re here! You’re going to see, we’re going to make it happen for you, so you can be a success.”
Beth Ennis, former Community Health Nurse for the Tonopah area, was at the grand opening as well and she, too, was obviously delighted by the project. “We struggled and tried to get a dental clinic here and it hadn’t happened but it’s happening now. It’s an answer to our dreams,” Ennis said.
Tonopah Dental Center Clinic Coordinator Valeria Romero, who originally hails from Venezuela but relocated to the United States two years ago, was a driving force behind the project. She offered her profound thanks to everyone involved, from the community members to the dental foundation members to the local hospital board and all of the volunteers.
“There is a quote that is always with me and that is, ‘Wherever you go, make something that makes you proud.’ And I am proud of this project,” Romero said while visibly striving to hold back tears. “I am proud of this team, I am proud of my husband, who is a part of this team, and I am proud of myself, too. Because I have grown, not just as a professional but as a human being. And I hope the community will love us and we will succeed with this clinic… Enjoy, please, this moment because we worked so hard to make this dream come true.”
Following the ribbon cutting, Mahon took a few moments to speak with the Pahrump Valley Times.
“We’re open Fridays and Saturdays now but as it builds, as the schedule builds, we can add days. Ultimately, we want to recruit a full-time dentist that will serve just this community,” Mahon explained.
He said there is plenty of room for future advancement, too, with the possibility of a partnership with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas already under consideration. That could allow for senior dental students to travel to Tonopah and provide care.
“Which they are fully capable of doing. They’ll have two or three years of clinical experience so when they get up here, they will be seasoned. I think that would be great for the community and for the university,” Mahon said.
The Tonopah Dental Center team includes volunteer general dentists Mahon and Wineman along with Dr. Grace Chung, Dr. Mark Rosenberg, Dr. Michelle Farnoush, Dr. Jessica Watts and Dr. Robin Lobato.
Kymberleigh Grigory is the lead dental assistant while Julie Stage-Rosenberg is the volunteer dental hygienist.
The Tonopah Dental Center is located at 825 S. Main Street. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
For more information visit TonopahDentalCenter.com or call 775-477-3033.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org