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Family Matters – Hamilton: A Smash Hit

One father-and-son (and spouses-and-children-and-grandchildren) team have served their Pennsylvania community for decades — while being forever mindful of how much good practice design augments good dentistry.

By Kristie Ceruti

FORTY-ONE YEARS AGO, fresh out of the Temple University School of Dentistry, Dr. David Hamilton and his wife, Marlene, brought their signature brand of dental care — treating all patients as though they’re a close-knit member of the clan — to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

Four decades, two offices and an extra 3,800 square feet later, Dr. Hamilton, 67, and his practice partner — Dr. Joel Hamilton, 35, who happens to be David and Marlene’s youngest son — continue that tradition in a beautiful new space.

David began dreaming of a new location for his practice some seven years ago. His partner in that ambition was Paul Staritz, a CenterPoint Dental Designer from Benco Dental, with which the Hamiltons have partnered since America’s bicentennial year. “I opened in 1976,” David says, “and now Joel has made it his.”
Joel joined the family practice, Hamilton Dental Care, in 2009. “I graduated from college with no clear direction what I wanted to do,” he says. “In the meantime, though, I worked with my dad as a dental assistant. I liked the idea of working with my hands, and decided to pursue dentistry.”

When the new office finally opened this past April, David shared his excitement with his and Joel’s staff of eight, taking them to visit their new professional home on Audubon Court near the banks of the Susquehanna River in Bloomsburg, just a bit southwest of Wilkes-Barre.

The two Drs. Hamilton had long mulled over their wish list for the new office: openness and brightness, to be sure, and also roominess. That last characteristic is key: David is 6-foot-4 and Joel four inches taller still — ample height relative even to a college-basketball squad, much less most dental practitioners. “We just wanted it bigger and modern,” David says. “We do quality dentistry, and we wanted [the practice aesthetics] to speak to the quality.”

It certainly does that — at over 5,000 square feet, it’s more than four times the size of their previous practice. Their patients appreciate it, David says; they’re particularly keen on the color choices and the large windows in every room, including the four operatories, which feature views of cornfields and the surrounding natural beauty of northeast Pennsylvania’s Columbia County. (Some of that natural beauty has been brought indoors: A hobbyist woodworker, David built a play table for children that now graces the practice’s reception area. “It’s enjoyable when I come out to the front desk from the back and see something that young patients have built,” he says. “The other day they had two knights and a castle.”)

The new space has been a long time in the gestation. Back in 1976, a half-decade before Joel was even born, Benco Dental’s now-Chairman and Chief Customer Advocate, Larry Cohen, took time — and plenty of it — to help David and Marlene get that first practice in gear. “You can’t believe the hours I spent with this man picking out everything a new dentist has to have,” David says, referring to Cohen. “Every cotton ball, every sponge, every instrument.” In the ensuing decades, he notes, “Benco has been amazing. Rich [Bonin, a Benco Dental Territory Representative] has been our rep, and he’s more than a rep — he’s our friend. He has stood by us.”

Also standing by: not just the patients whom the Hamiltons consider family, but the literal family as well: David and Marlene, married 43 years, now count 11 grandchildren by their own three kids. It’s a veritable multigenerational dental cavalcade on the march inside a gorgeous new space certain to keep Bloomsburg and environs in excellent dental health for decades to come.

Photographer: Amanda Griffith, Benco Dental; interior designer: Amanda Griffith; contractor: T.S. Ross; architect: Susan McGarry, ArchCentral, Bloomsburg; dental designer: Paul Staritz; equipment specialist: Kevin Swicklik, Benco Dental; Friendly Benco Rep: Rich Bonin; installation coordinator: Josh Ganz; service manager: Kevin Biniek.

Dr. David Hamilton’s New-Practice Design Tips

“Take your time. Identify what sets you apart. What’s your vision? What’s your philosophy of practice? Then talk to people such as Paul [Staritz], who can share designs with you. Study those. ‘Walk’ through them. Analyze flow, appearance and size.

“Having my son Joel as my partner was a real advantage. The two of us played devil’s advocate: I’d like one idea, he’d show the other side. He’d like one, I’d show the other side. I look back with fondness on the entire process.

“To be able to accomplish this goal alongside my son is a privilege I never dreamed I would have — and a blessing I cannot put into words.”