CARRIZOZO, N.M. – Dr. Felicia Fontenot has returned to the area to provide care for patients at the Presbyterian Medical Group (PMG) dentistry clinic in Carrizozo, joining Drs. Jamie Dale Goad and Melinda Hall Hacker. She is a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe and graduated from Ruidoso schools.
Fontenot knew from a young age that she was destined for a career in health care. In fact, she knew when she began volunteering at Lincoln County Medical Center while she was a student at Ruidoso High School.
It was in graduate school when she first became interested in dentistry. Fontenot earned a Bachelor's from Stanford University in California and a Master's degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. At Johns Hopkins, she attended a presentation about underserved oral health needs among Native Americans and decided to combine her interest in public health with rural dentistry.
After graduating from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in California, she practiced at the
Tséhootsooí Medical Center on the Navajo Nation, then moved to Ruidoso to be near family after her son was born in 2017. Now, she sees patients and mentors in clinic and in the community.
"It's very rewarding to see people that I've known since I was a young person," Fontenot says. "I feel like I've come full circle."
"It is always exciting when we recruit a skilled clinician to the area, particularly one who has such strong ties to our community," said Todd Oberheu, chief hospital executive, Lincoln County Medical Center.
Fontenot also hopes to inspire other young Mescalero Apache tribal members to go into dentistry.
"It is such a fulfilling career," she says. "As a dentist, you possess the unique ability to treat people with the work of your hands, often getting them out of pain, and improving their lives by giving them confidence through a healthy and beautiful smile."
In addition to regular cleanings, Fontenot sees many patients with untreated dental disease, often related to side effects from conditions like diabetes. She encourages patients to see a dental provider at least annually, starting as early as age one, for an assessment and to develop an individualized treatment plan.
The PMG dentistry clinic, which accepts Medicaid and offers a sliding scale, is open 7 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For appointments, call 575-648-2317.
About Lincoln County Medical Center
Lincoln County Medical Center is a county-owned facility that has been leased and operated by Presbyterian Healthcare Services since 1972. This partnership is dedicated to improving the health of individuals, families and communities in Ruidoso and Lincoln County. Lincoln County Medical Center and Presbyterian Healthcare Services operate a hospital, a primary care and specialty clinic, three rural clinics and a countywide ambulance service in Lincoln County. Lincoln County Medical Center is one of nine hospitals run by Presbyterian, which also has a statewide health plan and a growing multi-specialty medical group.