Dental Hygiene Alumni Spotlight



Patricia Bonasso Byrd, RDH ’78, BS ’02

As director of infection control for the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, Patricia Bonasso Byrd, RDH ’78, BS ’02, is used to evaluating risks from every angle. With the emergence of COVID-19, she faced a new challenge: protecting people from risks that were not fully known or understood. One thing that was known early on is that COVID-19 spreads through aerosolization, so dentistry was identified as being extremely high risk. However, patients still needed emergency dental care. Byrd was a key part of the team that figured out how to keep emergency dental operations open throughout the pandemic.

 “We spent hours together crafting policies and procedures, coming up with every scenario we could think of,” says Margaret Hill, DMD ’87, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “Patty was totally devoted to the notion of protecting everyone with a deep and abiding sense of responsibility and care.” That protection extended beyond the obvious, says Dr. Hill. “She didn’t just do the things that clearly needed to be done. Quickly she realized that there were folks who needed help. Students who were here without family … people who were stuck at home. She took them everything from food to OTC medicine to pulse-oximeters for self-monitoring. A lot of it was just instinct. She saw a need — a very individualized need — and she met it.”

Lecturer Mary Tackett has one word to describe Byrd’s approach to the pandemic: amazing. “She went above and beyond for me and countless others during the COVID crisis,” says Tackett. Associate Professor Sharon Cooper Carpenter, DH ’75, BDS ’79, MSEd, MS, PhD adds that “Patty has worked tirelessly throughout the COVID pandemic to assure that patients, students, faculty and staff remain safe and healthy in our work environment. She has maintained a laser focus on all updates and changes that would be applicable to the practice of dentistry in a teaching institution.”

To her colleagues, Byrd’s ability to rise to the challenge of a global pandemic is no surprise. “Patty is a shining star, not only at ULSD, but to our Dental Hygiene profession,” says Donna Aden, RDH ’87, BS ’88, MEd ’91, Associate Professor of Dental Hygiene. “I have worked with Patty in many facets through the years, and she always gives 110%. She spends endless hours, yes nights and weekends at times, to inform and ensure that the students, staff and faculty are practicing in a safe environment and using proper OSHA protocols. Patty helps to bring excellence to our patient care at ULSD. This not only benefits the UofL School of Dentistry but provides our patients with a clinical setting that is conducive to receive the best patient-centered care possible.”