Arcadia resident Stephen Beals always wanted to be a doctor. During his studies, he developed an affinity for surgery, specifically plastic surgery. From there, he developed a passion for the specialist field of craniofacial surgery, especially cleft lip and cleft palate repair.
When Stephen entered the field in the 1980s, there were few treatment facilities in North America. He was asked to establish a craniofacial center in Phoenix, and when he began in January 1986, he was Arizona’s first craniofacial surgeon.
Today, the Inzalaco Barrow Cleft and Craniofacial Center at Barrow Neurological Institute is the only one of its kind in the state. Stephen and his team see local patients as well as those from around the country and the world. While they predominantly treat babies and children with craniofacial differences, they also care for adults with craniofacial differences and people who have tumors and other traumas.
After graduating from dental school, Dr. Patricia Glick pursued a career in orthodontics. As she was fulfilling her craniofacial rotation, she realized she’d found her calling — this was where she belonged. She was the orthodontist on the craniofacial team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when Stephen hired the craniofacial surgeon she worked with to be on his team in Phoenix.
“Because I was her orthodontist and good friend, she said she wouldn’t go without me,” Patricia said. “So that’s how I got here.”
Patricia became co-director about five years ago after having worked at the center for over a decade. Since Stephen was spending most of his work hours in surgery, and Patricia more of her time at the center, she began to assume some of the administrative tasks, making her a natural fit to become co-director.
In addition to their individual career achievements, there’s a love story here. Stephen had been a widower for about three years before they began dating. Dating led to engagement, and they married in September 2017.
The Bealses define their center as a ‘craniofacial home,’ functioning as a one-stop shop for their patients for a variety of services. In addition to surgery and dentistry, the center offers ear, nose and throat services, ophthalmology, physical therapy, psychology and speech-language pathology.
“The concept of the ‘craniofacial home’ is really at the core of who we are,” Stephen said. “We’re a safe place people can come and be totally accepted; they don’t have to worry about how they look. This is where they can get help, support and love.”
Cleft palate can be detected in the womb, so they treat kids in infancy and typically see them through adulthood.
“There are things you can do in a growing child, and there are things that are best done when the face has finished growing,” Patricia added. “We have a timeline where we lay out for the family the plan of care starting at birth going through the end of growth.”
Since some craniofacial differences can be hereditary, the Bealses have even treated three generations of a family from grandparent to grandchildren.
The extracurricular services the Bealses offer their patients make their program unique.
Kids with craniofacial differences routinely experience isolation as they feel alone in their circumstances. Thus, the purpose of the many of the center’s group activities is to bring the children together to bond and share their thoughts and feelings. The Bealses offer speech camp, girls groups, family picnics, Christmas parties, focus groups and other programs that support the patients and their families.
While the Bealses and their dedicated staff work hard to make life as normal and as happy for their patients as possible, they couldn’t do all they do without the faithful support of Arcadia’s Inzalaco family.
“Stephanie and Guy Inzalaco are some of our main supporters,” Stephen said. “The Inzalaco name is on our center.”
“A few years ago, the Inzalacos made a rather large donation that allowed us to complete the renovation of the center,” Patricia said. “Since that time, they’ve continued to support us.”
Not only have the Inzalacos donated money, they’ve also opened their heart and home to host events such as the family picnic.
As critical as it is to treat a child’s craniofacial differences, it’s just as vital to address their whole being. The Bealses want their patients to know that, even in a visual society, they’re not defined by their craniofacial differences, and they can achieve whatever they want to in this world.