by Jay Lawson
Dr. Joseph Rintrona, who has been practicing dentistry in the Town of Webb for nearly 35 years, appeared before the Town Board at its audit meeting on Monday, September 21, to introduce his prospective replacement.
In 2013, Dr. Rintrona informed the board that he is nearing the end of his dental career.
Since then, he has been looking for a replacement to assume his patient load upon retirement.
Dr. Cynthia Kibiuk is interested he said.
Kibiuk is from the Barneveld area and has 20 years dental experience, said Councilwoman Mary Brophy-Moore.
“She took time off to raise her family. Now they are at an age where she would like to pursue her own practice again. She thought this would be perfect,” Moore said.
Currently, Dr. Kibiuk practices at the Sitrin Dental Office in New Hartford.
Kibiuk also appeared before the Webb Board to request a continuation of Rintrona’s current arrangement with the Town of Webb, Moore said.
The Town owns the Health Center building that houses the dental office.
“[Dr. Kibiuk] is actually purchasing Joe’s practice. She’s not purchasing the space or the equipment, except some of the equipment that belongs to Joe,” Moore said.
Most of the equipment belongs to the town, having been purchased by the Town of Webb Health Center Fund, she said.
“The contract [with the Town] is essentially to allow her to use the space as Joe has, which means rent-free,” Moore said.
Kibiuk also wants two clauses changed.
Currently the contract is for a term of one year. Kibiuk wants a five-year term with two renew options.
“To pursue a loan to buy the dental practice, she has to have more security to show lenders… a one-year contract isn’t enough to satisfy them,” Moore said.
Another contract change involves an existing six-month termination clause.
Kibiuk’s lawyer, Carl Dziekan—who was also present—said that “kick-out provision” needs to be eliminated.
Dziekan said he will communicate with Town Attorney Richard Frye.
“I will present to Richard what we can live with, and he can present it to you folks. Hopefully you will say yes; but if you say no, then you say no,” he said.
Attorney Timothy Foley was present representing Dr. Rintrona. He indicated that he was hopeful an agreement could be reached with the town.
Councilman Mike Ross said the Board needs to study the contract before making any decision.
The Board agreed to ask Town Attorney Richard Frye to draft a review contract for possible approval at the Board’s October 13th meeting.
“That would [allow] more of an open meeting discussion,” said Councilman Ross.
Dr. Rintrona told the Board about the current state of his practice and his efforts to find a suitable replacement.
He said he has backed off on his caseload over the past three or four years.
“I’m basically working three-and-a-half days now. There are things I did when we started that I no longer do because of time constraints and preferences,” he said.
He said Dr. Kibiuk’s more expansive offerings should allow a business increase of nearly 25 percent.
“That would make it a more reasonable situation for someone who’s more vigorous than I am,” Dr. Rintrona said.
Dr. Kibiuk commented on Dr. Rintrona’s service to the Town of Webb.
She said he was instrumental in introducing fluoride to local drinking water.
“As a public health measure, that by itself probably paid for that health care center with regard to the amount of decay in the population and the amount of dental problems relative to fluoride,” Kibiuk said.
“If he were a selfish individual, he wouldn’t have promoted fluoride in the water because that makes for a healthy dental practice!” she added.
The Board members spoke of the value of local dental services, and the convenience of not having to travel and take time off from work.
Dr. Kibiuk said she currently has a couple of Old Forge patients at her Sitrin clinic.
“They have to set aside their whole day to go to the dentist, bringing their kids with them. It’s a big inconvenience,” she said.
Dr. Rintrona said he planned to introduce Dr. Kibiuk to the recently renamed Health Center Fund at their October meeting.
“The Health Center fund is a key to this whole deal. They have been wonderful all these years for the Health Center. That’s what made the thing work, that marriage between the Town and the Fund. That’s what formed the place,” he said.
In an interview, former Supervisor George Hiltebrant described the Town of Webb’s partnership history with local health service providers.
He said the Town once provided nearly everything for those who would agree to practice in the Town of Webb, including staff costs.
“Joe Rintrona had to build that business when he arrived. There was nobody there when he came in, so he built the business,” Hiltebrant said.
Over time the staffing costs were transferred to the dental office.
“We saw that his business was doing substantially well,” Hiltebrant said.
The office’s utility costs continued to be paid by the town, according to Hiltebrant.
“There was no way to break out electricity usage, because there was only one meter,” he said.
As for rental payments, Hiltebrant said the building was constructed for the purpose of giving a home office to health providers that would locate in the Town of Webb.
“The town never charged anybody that was in there. In fact, when doctors came in, we guaranteed [a minimum revenue]. If they didn’t make a certain amount in a year, we agreed to make up the difference,” Hiltebrant said.
He said the Health Center Fund’s (HCF) participation with the town has always been vital in assuring health services locally.
“The way we felt at the time was that if we wanted a dentist to be here, we were going to have to give something. A lot of people said, ‘Let them go out and rent another building in town and open their business. But many of us felt no dentist would come here if they had to do that,” Hiltebrant said.
They would shun the time and money costs of building a new business.
The Town Board and HCF agreed incentives were necessary.
Does that rationale still hold in 2015 with Dr. Rintrona’s successor?
“It does with me,” Hiltebrant said. “At least until the board sees how that person is going to do.”
Supervisor Ted Riehle said he is on board with a continuation of the current lease agreement with requested modifications.
Councilwoman Moore said she is not only agreeable to the lease proposal, but to the proposed candidate as well.
“I was very impressed with [Dr. Kibiuk]. She made a very good impression personally, and with Joe’s recommendation I feel very comfortable. I know he has spent many, many months looking for someone that would be willing to practice here and would be a good fit for the town. I’m grateful that he did that,” she said.
As someone versed in the history of the Health Center and a patient of Dr. Rintrona, George Hiltebrant said he is comfortable with the choice too.
“I trust Joe’s take on this,” he said.