SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Last week, Snowmass' only dentist, Karina Redko, celebrated the 10th anniversary of opening her practice here.
"I can't believe it has gone by that quickly," said Redko. "There's no doubt that from the very first day I moved here and threw myself into getting this practice going and off the ground, my effort and my whole heart has gone into this business and it has paid off.
"I always wanted to go into health care, but once I researched being a physician I felt that route wasn't for me. I like dentistry because I have good hours for having a family. And I like dentistry because you see instant changes in the health of your patients. When you're doing restorations, you see an hour-by-hour change, and there's a gratification to that."
After graduating from dental school at the University of Minnesota, Redko practiced in her home state for two years but always had an eye on moving west. While consulting with a practice broker she learned about a Snowmass dentist, Dr. Hershel Ross, who was interested in selling his two-day-a-week practice.
"I'm not an impulsive person at all. I usually think things through," Redko said. "But I found out about the practice on a Wednesday. I flew out here on a Friday. I met with Dr. Ross on Saturday. Made the offer on Sunday. And it was accepted on Monday. I also got to ski nine inches of fresh powder with Dr. Ross. Snowmass was just amazing that day."
The powder must have sealed the deal.
Redko moved to Snowmass and opened a full-time, five-day-a-week dentistry practice on her own.
The first couple of weeks she used her father to answer phones and help in the back. Eventually she hired one assistant, then six months later, she hired a front office employee. Today, she has herself, two dental hygienists, a full-time assistant, a part-time assistant and an office manager.
"We're a team that is really cross-trained," Redko said. "I started very small and added employees slowly, so I know every position in this office. And I enjoy doing every position."
About 99 percent of Redko's patients are Snowmass locals and second-home owners.
"I think we are providing a service that people need, and it's a lot more convenient for people to come into here (at the Snowmass Center) than drive into Aspen or go to Basalt," Redko said.
She is the only dentist in Snowmass Village.
"I would say our schedule is pretty full year-round," Redko said. "We are mainly taking care of locals, and locals have more time to take care of themselves in the offseason."
Redko offers a full range of dental services: preventive care, cleanings, localized restorations, fillings, crowns, reconstructions and periodontal services.
"We have continued to be committed to having upgraded technology in the business," Redko said. "There's a certain number of patients that are attracted to that. And we are always doing continuing education to stay on top of the latest technology. We can scan the tooth with our computer, design the new tooth with software and make the porcelain crowns right here in-office in one visit with our high-tech machines."
They also have a digital X-ray machine that effortlessly spins around your head and gives a digital read-out with ease. And they use lasers in the office for gum treatments.
When she isn't in the office, Redko can be found with her husband, Jason Creamer, and her two young children, Edie, 6, and Elena, 2. She continues to love to ski in the winter and hike in the summer.
Like most small businesses in Snowmass, she has had a challenging time with the recession the past few years.
"You're always working so hard, that's difficult. You have to keep a watchful eye on everything," Redko said. "We have to watch our budgets carefully, both with the business and at home. We haven't gone on a real vacation in years.
"One thing that is special about (Snowmass) is that people put such a high priority on their health. It's one of the things that has made having a practice here so enjoyable. I'm here. I'm an eternal optimist. I could easily go on for another 20 years plus. We're always going to need certain businesses in Snowmass, and hopefully there will always be a spot for a dentist."
Karina Redko, DDS. 16 Kearns Road, Suite 203. Snowmass Village. 970-923-5777. www.snowmassvillagedental.com
Steve Alldredge is the former assistant editor/writer for the Snowmass Sun. He now runs a local communications company whose clients include Related Colorado. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.