Sylvia Noteware, D.M.D.
Dr. Noteware checks in at new dental clinic
As Melissa Memorial Hospital’s dental clinic continues to grow, the hospital last week welcomed its new dentist, Sylvia Noteware, D.M.D., who brings with her a strong background in rural care and more than 40 years of experience in the field.
Noteware said she feels welcome in Holyoke and excited to continue pushing the limits of rural care in another corner of small-town America.
“I grew up in a farming community in rural Pennsylvania, so I guess it feels comfortable for me,” she said. “The people at MMH are very warm and friendly, and everything is very state-of-the-art.”
After completing her undergraduate education at Penn State, Noteware earned her doctor of dental medicine from the University of Pennsylvania Dental School in 1977. From there, she entered the U.S. Navy Dental Corps and served in private practices in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Noteware was raised in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, which set the stage for her time at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania and eventual term as clinical director of the Susquehanna River Valley Dental Health Clinic from 2012-2017.
At SRVDHC — located in rural Sunbury, Pennsylvania — she got the chance to serve low-income and uninsured patients suffering from the collapse of the local manufacturing industry. The surrounding county has been designated by the federal government as a Health Professional Shortage Area since 2000.
For Noteware, who was a practitioner on mission trips to Puerto Rico for a decade, a common misconception she encounters is that underserved populations only exist abroad.
“Often individuals on Medicaid can’t find providers,” she said. “There’s a great need for care for lower-income individuals.”
But despite their rural identities, Holyoke and Sunbury differ in most other respects. Noteware mentioned the stability of Holyoke relative to the backdrop of poverty in Sunbury and Holyoke’s lack of crime, as well as the range of services offered by MMH.
She also said the integration of dentistry with other service lines at MMH benefits patients and is uncommon for a rural hospital.
“This location is quite unique,” she said. “It’s completely different.”
Noteware was named Outstanding Dental Professional of the Year by the Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center in 2015 for her care of patients in an underserved area and increasing access to care. She said her clinic more than doubled its number of seats during her time as director.
Most recently, Noteware worked as a staff dentist with the Ibn Sina Foundation in Houston, Texas.
Noteware is renting a house in Holyoke and plans to spend a few weeks at a time in town and spend time with her husband in Houston in the interim. She has four adult children living in Houston; New York City; London, England; and Sydney, Australia.
Noteware’s advanced education didn’t end with her 1977 doctorate. In 2003, she earned a master’s degree in music from the University of Texas at Austin — the culmination of a lifelong love of the piano and church organ.
“I started playing the organ when my legs were long enough to reach the pedals,” she said.
Noteware also enjoys running, trekking and long-distance cycling. She has clocked marathons in Oregon, Hawaii and France, along with biking and trekking events in Asia and Europe.