River Town Family Dentistry expansion

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River Town Family Dentistry's new building project is slated for completion in December 2022 or January 2023. From left are Dr. Alicia Walke, Staci Wessel, Eva Moore, Rhonda Ungs, Heather Berns and Katie Krall. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

River Town Family Dentistry in Guttenberg has broken ground on a new building project next to its current location on Highway 52. Dr. Alicia Walke DDS purchased the existing dental practice and building in 2021 from Dr. John Barron.

"We will be completing a new structure in the same location adjacent to the existing building," explained Dr. Alicia. "The existing building will be demolished after the new building’s completion to make room for a larger parking lot which will be able to accommodate handicap accessible spaces." 

Dr. Alicia saw a need to expand the business after taking over the practice. "Over the last two-and-a-half years practicing dentistry in Guttenberg, I have been so blessed to have the support from the local community and the surrounding areas," she said with gratitude. "I recognize patients can choose to go anywhere, but my team and I are so appreciative that they have stayed local and are coming to our practice."

She continued, "With that, we see there is a strong need in our community for quality dental services, and we want to provide that to as many people that request our services as possible, and within a timely manner. We also want to give back to our community, and provide them with a brand new facility that is able to accommodate growth and new technology. Guttenberg has a great modern hospital and medical clinic and we want to provide the same in dental care for generations to come." 

Size limitations and handicap accessibility motivated Dr. Alicia's decision. "Currently we are limited in space by the size of our building and number of operatories.  Our current building also has some limitations and challenges with accommodating wheelchairs and walkers. Our mission is to be accommodating and welcoming to all patients.  Many of the patients have been coming to the practice for many years, and my team and I consider all of our patients family."

A larger footprint will increase appointment availability and diagnostic services. "With a larger space we will be able to schedule more efficiently and better accommodate our patient population," noted Dr. Alicia. "We will be adding another full-time hygienist, and will be looking for another front office staff member as well. We are booked out several months for our hygiene and procedure based appointments, and the additional space will give our patients better access to care in a timely manner. In a larger space we also will have the opportunity to accommodate growth in the future if the need is there for another dentist. We also will be able to add a pantomograph x-ray machine, which expands our diagnostic capabilities and greatly benefits our patients."

The new expansion will benefit Dr. Eric Meyer, Dubuque Orthodontics. "Dr. Eric Meyer, who comes to our office once a month on Fridays, uses our office as a satellite location," she noted. "He sees his own orthodontic patients in our office; they do not have to be River Town Family Dentistry patients. We are so excited to have this partnership with Dubuque Orthodontics, and we will continue this relationship in support of the needs of the community and surrounding areas. The additional space will be more accommodating for his patient flow and sterilization needs as well."

The new building will be approximately three times the size of the existing structure, allowing for eight treatment operatories, of which six will be fully equipped and operational from the beginning. "The two additional operatories can be equipped for additional capacity in the future," commented Dr. Alicia. "There will be space for the 2D pantomograph x-ray imaging machine and a consultation room which is paramount for patient privacy when discussing their dental needs and treatment plans. The waiting room will be more spacious with improved patient experience, including a TV and beverage bar. The patient bathroom will be fully ADA compatible.  Also, there are improved amenities for our staff with a larger break room, lockers, spacious bathroom, and private offices.  It brings all the standards of a modern dental office to Guttenberg."

Dr. Alicia has hired Downing Construction as the general contractor, and hopes to have the project completed by December 2022 or January 2023. "Downing Construction is a design-to-build construction company based out of Indianola and specializing in dental office builds," she shared. "They have completed several dental offices right here in the eastern Iowa area. They have done an amazing job designing our building and organizing the work of our subcontractors. We have requested to use as many of our local and surrounding area businesses as possible for the subcontracting work, of which several will be included in the project."

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