New Dentist Arrives in Calais, Plans for Future

By Lura Jackson

 

Dr. William Gould has officially retired, and Dr. Karen Delaney has taken over his practice. Dr. Delaney is now accepting patients from Dr. Gould's former office on Main Street while her future office space is being remodeled. (Submitted photo)

For the past few decades, residents of Calais and nearby areas have received their dental care from Dr. William Gould’s office on Main Street. Despite being ready to retire, Gould continued to offer his services to ensure that his patients wouldn’t have their needs go un-met. Then, last year, Gould received a phone call out of the blue. It was from Karen Delaney, a dentist from Texas that wanted to know if Gould would allow her to shadow his office for a time. After a few visits, the two soon reached an agreement: Delaney would take over his practice and effectively become the city dentist.

For Delaney, who initially hails from Germany, the transition is one that fills her with joy. She first came to Maine two years ago to meet her cousin, who had just completed the Appalachian Trail. The climate and ecology reminded her of her native land, and she immediately became enamored with it. A few months later, she conducted an online search to determine which areas of the country had the most need for dental services, and Maine came up second (with Alaska ranked first). Within Maine, Washington County was ranked as the location with the highest need. 

Delaney felt compelled by the absence of care in rural Maine. She and her family had been living in the affluent area of Texas, where she engaged in primarily cosmetic surgery. Though the work was enjoyable and the pay substantial, Delaney was unfulfilled. In Maine, however, she saw a very different situation. 

A year after her first visit, she was able to return to the state. She called several dentist offices in Washington County before securing an externship at the Regional Medical Center in Lubec. That’s where she had her first patient interactions, and they made a profound impression on her. “The patients here are so thankful. They’re used to getting by, doing what they can, and never complaining,” she said. The difference was refreshing. 

When Delaney returned home, she discussed moving to Maine with her husband and three children. “We have a very close family,” she said. “Everyone was on board.” 

Delaney’s next step was to rank the dentists in Washington County by age, and finding Dr. Gould at the top, she cold-called him to discuss the possibility of shadowing him. The plan quickly developed, and after a few more visits throughout the seasons, she began looking at real estate in Calais. Now, she and her husband have officially moved, and their three adolescent offspring will soon be joining them. The family is highly athletic: Kelly, 16, is a skilled volleyball player, while Colt (14) and Raya (9) both enjoy basketball. Delaney is well prepared for the sporting seasons. “I’m already designing my husband’s blue devil costume,” she said with a laugh.

In addition to buying a home for themselves, the family has also purchased a sprawling Victorian home at the corner of South Street and Manning. Known as the “Wedding Cake” house or “Hamilton’s Folly”, the uniquely designed home will serve as the future office of Delaney’s practice. Delaney says that the home will need work for the conversion to be completed, but she estimates it will be up and running in twelve months. She said that no expense is being spared to upgrade or convert the technology she’ll be using. At the same time, maintaining the historical integrity of the house is a major priority. 

In the meantime, Delaney is now seeing patients in Dr. Gould’s former office. The two dental hygienists that Gould employed will remain, while new staff will also be sought. Additional staff will be hired when the larger office is opened.

Delaney has been working in the dental field since 2007, when she became a dental hygienist. She was drawn to the field because she knew she wanted to be a caregiver, and because she was interested in its artistic elements. “I like having a tangible product produced from my care,” she says. Describing how dentistry enables her to be a sculptor and a painter at the same time, she emphasizes how much she appreciates the proper emphasis of natural design.

For some patients, perhaps the most important component of Delaney’s new practice will be her attention to their comfort. Delaney’s first degree is in psychology, and as such, she aims to create a comfortable atmosphere throughout her office. Furthermore, one of her specialties is in assisting patients with “dental fear”, an affliction she herself suffers from. “Whenever I go to the dentist, I have to be sedated,” she said, commenting on the anxiety it causes. “For any patient that has dental fear, I know what that’s like.” Minimizing that fear and creating a pleasant experience is at the forefront of Delaney’s goal.

 

Delaney’s office is now open and patients are being accepted. To set up an appointment, call 454-2350 from 8-5 on Monday through Thursday, or 8-12 on Friday.