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Dr. Stephanie Dentoni: A Warm Heart, A Kind Soul

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Growing up in Ripon, Stephanie Dentoni, MD, always dreamed of becoming a doctor. She spent her undergraduate years at University of California, Davis, before moving to New York City to attend Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Her mentor ignited the interest in vascular medicine, the field in which she completed her fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. “The different focus was intriguing to me. It was unique and there were very few specialists,” expressed Stephanie expressed. 

During her fellowship in vascular medicine, Stephanie was trained on varicose veins, clotting disorders and other disease processes affecting the vascular system outside the heart. Her education was extremely specialized on the nuances of vein disease and she stressed the importance of seeing a specialist. “Our training is so different and specialized from that of a primary care physician. Often times, things can be missed and until my patients see me, they may go undiagnosed and untreated,” she commented. 

Coming Home
Stephanie moved back to the Central Valley in 2002 and worked in Modesto before she opened her private practice in 2005. She works with her office manager, Debra, receptionist, Patty, and an ultrasonographer, Georgina. “We are a small office; our working environment is light-hearted with a patient focus,” described Stephanie. The staff get to know the patients well and they strategically schedule appointments to allow Stephanie plenty of time for focused individualized care. “We don’t double book appointments. Having control over my schedule allows me to treat patients and give proper care,” she continued. Stephanie strives to make herself available to her patients. She calls after hours and on the weekends, checking in with patients after surgeries or procedures. 

Stephanie’s childhood played an integral role in shaping her into the physician she is today. “I learned to fly an airplane before I got my driver’s license and I started scuba diving with my father at a young age,” she remembered. Flying a plane and scuba diving gave Stephanie experience with critical situations and she credits those opportunities with preparing her for medical school. She also credits her father with the introduction to her husband. “Our fathers were best friends and my husband was invited to come along on a family vacation one summer,” Stephanie said smiling. They spent several summers scuba diving, living on a boat in the Sea of Cortez. It was one of these scuba diving vacations where Stephanie met her future husband. “My mother has always been there for me. Any time I reached a stumbling point in my life, my mom was there to help pick me up and encourage me to persevere,” Stephanie said lovingly. Stephanie’s mom and her grandmother, who she lovingly referred to as her “nonni”, taught Stephanie how to cook Italian family recipes. They handed down a secret family recipe of Kahlua, which Stephanie says is a crowd favorite! “My mother is truly an important part of my life,” she continued. 

Stephanie’s Flock
When she isn’t working, she spends time at home with her family and her animals. “After my father-in-law passed away, we moved onto the family estate to help care for the property and be close to my mother-in-law,” she commented. “My husband promised me I could have animals and for quite some time, that promise went unfulfilled,” she smiled. There is a beautiful aviary on the property where they raise doves, quail and German Owl pigeons. They have Guinea hens and nine chickens that enjoy free ranging and foraging through the beautiful landscape. Stephanie had always hoped for more animals but her husband had reservations. Fate and some divine intervention, according to her mother-in-law, made her hopes a reality. 

Stephanie’s mother-in-law had been caring for her brother after he became ill and they moved him from San Luis Obispo to live with the family. Stephanie confided in him that she always wanted to have a goat. “He smiled at me and told me not to worry, one day you will have that goat,” she remembered with a smile. The day he passed away from brain cancer, a stray goat wandered onto the property. “The goat was sick and had trouble walking. We called a vet immediately and we were advised to put the animal down,” she explained. 

Stephanie’s mother-in-law would have no such thing and they were determined to nurse this goat back to health. Convinced the goat was somehow sent as a sign from her brother, her mother-in-law stood firm. With Stephanie’s medical background, she was able to administer IV fluids and four injections daily. “We were told at least four times to put the goat down,” she said. The goat was diagnosed with polio and paralyzed from the neck down, yet the two determined women loved, cared for and hand fed this animal. They lovingly named her Sammy, after her brother’s spiritual name, Samuel. “For six weeks, we did everything we could to help Sammy,” Stephanie shared. “One day she got up and started walking around like everything was back to normal,” she exclaimed. Sammy is now the resident goat on the property and follows Stephanie around like a dog. 

Family Ties
Stephanie has two daughters, her older attending Colorado State University and her younger at home finishing high school at St. Mary’s. Stephanie spends time at home sewing and gardening. Her family continues to motivate her, and her relationship with her parents, who are still living in Ripon, is a priority for this dedicated physician. “I have coffee every Monday morning with my dad. He comes to my office and I start my week with his visits,” Stephanie smiled. 

She credits her ability to balance her roles as physician, wife, mother, daughter and daughter-in-law to manageable expectations. Her advice to other working women is to set clear expectations. “We all share roles. My kids know what to expect and this helps our family get through busy weeks so we can enjoy our down time together,” she finished. 

Her father’s interest in flying, scuba diving and extreme skiing gave Stephanie the opportunities to make critical decisions under pressure, ultimately preparing her for a career in vascular medicine. She is a dedicated and laser-focused physician with a warm heart and kind soul.