When Dr. Rita Bernardo started at FamilyCare in 2003, the dental program was in its first year, and there were only two dental rooms and a small staff. In those early days, personal vehicles were used to carry portable dental units to rural areas. Dr. Bernardo would load armfuls of equipment into her Subaru and drive an hour to Boone County schools to provide dental services to children in need.
Almost two decades later, the program has grown significantly. There are now six rooms dedicated to dental services at FamilyCare’s Patrick Street location, plus a fully-fledged mobile unit. Still, the ethos that motivates the team remains the same.
Raised by two medical doctors, Dr. Bernardo has always believed that everyone, regardless of income level or insurance status, has a right to high-quality care of all kinds, including dental. FamilyCare’s work is founded on this same premise, which is what led her to get on board in the beginning.
A lot of our patients haven’t been to a dentist and are not happy with their smiles,” she explained. “Here at FamilyCare, we have the privilege not just to provide them with care, but also to help them gain confidence.”
Right now, FamilyCare is seeing more dental patients than ever. But even with an active dental unit, Dr. Bernardo says that patients still sometimes travel upwards of two hours to receive care. As the need continues to rise, FamilyCare hopes to expand dental services to additional locations.
“I’ll be here up until I retire,” shared Dr. Bernardo. “I’m sure I’ll keep watching FamilyCare grow bigger, which is certainly for the better.”