Petite. Beautiful smile with perfect teeth. Firm handshake bigger than her size would indicate.
Kelly Last is the dentist who bought out Dr. Wheeler's practice two and a half years ago, changing the name of her business from La Plaza Laser Dentistry to Elevation Dental in 2012.
Having grown up near Parker, Colorado, Kelly considers herself to be fortunate to have stayed in Colorado -- first by graduating the University of Colorado in Boulder, completing her residency at the VA Hospital in Denver and then beginning her practice of dentistry with the Howard Dental Center in Denver.
It was the latter experience – working in an AIDS clinic – that stirred the compassion and instilled her desire to "take care of people," something she continues to do here in Evergreen, just in a different way. Even exposure to HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C by blood-to-blood contact didn't deter her from working with high-risk patients at the Howard Dental Center several years ago. She had to undergo testing and taking HIV medications before being assured at the end of 12 months that she had not been infected.
Here in Evergreen her name is known well to the staff at the Seniors' Resource Center and The Salvation Army, as she helps provide dental services to the elderly who are medically indigent. In some cases the services are free. In others, they are greatly reduced in cost.
Building on the CO2 laser for soft-tissue surgery that came with the business, Kelly introduced digital technology. All X-rays are done on the premises. She's proud of her paperless office where all communications are digital – email or text unless, of course, a patient prefers a phone call reminder. Her tools are state-of-the-art, with reduced noise from the drill. Patients who still need calming can wear headphones to listen to music or to watch movies on a flat-screen monitor.
Her pursuit of education is ongoing, focusing on implants and bites. She knows how important the dental health of a patient is to a person's overall health, and she's determined to learn as much as she can.
She's getting better acquainted in the community by participating in the Women in Evergreen Business (WEB) group, serving as a judge in the Mountain area Science Fair, and contributing to a variety of nonprofit organizations.
Her husband, Rob, spent the first year and a half managing her office as she settled into having her own practice; he's now working at getting his MBA at the University of Denver. The two love the mountains and enjoy hiking with their two dogs, an Italian mastiff and a golden doodle. During the winter months, you might see her snowboarding when you head down the slopes.
She's shown here with "Fred's Head," her all-time favorite gift, something she was given by her father-in-law, who's also a dentist. The half-a-century-old skull depicts all the nerves and blood vessels and sinus cavities in an anatomically correct way, revealed with hinged sections of the skull. It helps her show patients the source of their dental problem and enables her to better understand how to help someone in pain. If you pay her a visit, ask to see Fred's Head.