South Shore Smiles–St. John, Indiana
South Shore Smiles in St. John, Indiana, a city of about 14,000 residents, was founded by the husband and wife team of Dr. Roger Shieh and Dr. Rachel Dunlop, as a place where patients of every age—from toddlers to senior citizens—can receive dental care. While that might not sound entirely unique for a dental office, South Shore Smiles is different because it brings together the passions of a pediatric dentist with that of a general dentist—essentially creating two distinct practices under one roof, with one side for the “littles” and one side for the “bigs.” The combination has attracted people who appreciate having a single “dental home” for the whole family.
Dual Practice Required Novel Design and Approach
Building an office that would cater equally to children and adults was something that had interested the doctors for quite some time. They knew they enjoyed their personal time together, but owning a business together meant a lot more of that together-time. To ensure it was a harmonious pairing, they wanted the office to be designed to give them space to practice independently where they could meet the distinct needs of their patients while having a workflow that was seamlessly connected, sharing common spaces like sterilization and imaging.
“We decided to build a new facility rather than renovate one because we desired a specific design,” commented Dr. Shieh. “Since the practice needed to accommodate both a general dentist and a pediatric dentist, we had to consider patient flow, noise issues, and patient comfort. It made sense to design a space that checked all the boxes and allowed us to deliver excellent patient care.”
They began discussions with another company about building the office, but reached out to John Link, Equipment Sales Specialist for Henry Schein, to ask his advice.
“I had worked with them previously while at another company, so when they called me, I told them about everything we offered and how Henry Schein is truly about helping a practice grow. I introduced them to one of our lease negotiation partners and Field Sales Consultant Patrick Broderick. They just found themselves comfortable with us.”
Mr. Link has been in the industry for 39 years, and the doctors consider him a dental expert. They called initially to bounce some questions off him about the amount of square footage they would need for their plans, and they found that the team was professional and had high standards.
“They were a great resource for questions and issues,” said Dr. Shieh about the Henry Schein team. “Through their wealth of experience and knowledge, they were able to help guide us through potential hiccups and issues during the build out.”
The office space, a storefront with expansive windows, is located on a busy main street in St. John, giving it excellent visibility to passing traffic. The 4,200 square-foot space was almost totally empty, so there was little need for demolition on the inside. Renee Susami of Henry Schein’s Integrated Design Studio has partnered with Mr. Link on many builds, and she drew up the blueprints for this one, too. It essentially divided the square footage in half, with Dr. Shieh’s patient rooms on one side and Dr. Dunlop’s on the other. Shared spaces, like the sterilization room and lab, are accessible to both doctors by a hallway that connects the two sides.
“It was a challenge to create a dual practice in one building,” noted Mr. Link. “Pediatric offices typically have bathrooms near the waiting room, and they can also be louder with children. Ms. Susami intentionally built in a lot of jogs and doors that can be closed off, and we also built in a good deal of noise suppression.”
The dual nature of the practice is evident immediately when you step inside the generously sized waiting area. Warmly appointed, it has an adult side and a child-friendly side, so every guest is comfortable at any age.
“We didn’t want our patients to feel like they were walking into a dental office when they first step through the door,” said Dr. Shieh. “We hopefully accomplished that with the modern color scheme throughout the office. The waiting room has couches with a large television, so you feel like you are sitting in your own living room. We also have a beverage center that matches with our color scheme.”
Dark charcoal gray walls are anchored by durable faux wood flooring, adding texture and warmth to the office. Two doorways flank the curved granite countertop check-in desk accentuated by recessed lighting—and each door leads to a separate wing of the practice, depending on which doctor the patient is there to see. “Having a large and inviting waiting room has been fabulous,” noted Dr. Shieh. “Since both general and pediatric patients are present at the same time, it is wonderful to give them enough space to relax without feeling crowded.”
Our biggest goal is to provide the ultimate patient experience. Having TVs on the ceiling has been wildly popular, explained Dr. Shieh.
The doctors selected A-dec equipment for the treatment rooms, which Mr. Link says is true for about 80% of his customers.
“It’s the least expensive equipment purchase for the long run because the chairs are designed to last 20 years,” explained Mr. Link. “They make their own parts, and their sales, follow-up, and customer service is legendary.”
Dr. Shieh and Dr. Dunlop accompanied Mr. Link to the company’s manufacturing plant, and from 17 rooms of operatory set-ups, the couple chose A-dec’s Inspire cabinetry and delivery units with A-dec 300 chairs and LED lights.
The doctors were patient-focused when designing the rooms, adding amenities to ensure comfort and relaxation.
“Our biggest goal is to provide the ultimate patient experience,” explained Dr. Shieh. “Having TVs on the ceiling has been wildly popular. It distracts the pediatric patients and entertains the adult patients. Staring at a blank ceiling during a dental procedure is not ideal.”
Digital Imaging That Fits the Needs of Both Kids and Adults
As a pediatric dentist, Dr. Dunlop had worked with sensors before and felt they were often uncomfortable for her smallest patients. For that reason, they chose the Air Techniques ScanX imaging system, which provides a variety of sizing options, and a NOMAD mobile X-ray unit, which can travel around the office to any patient room. A Soredex X-ray unit captures necessary panoramic and cephalometric images from an alcove in the shared hallway across from the onsite lab.
“From the design of the A-dec cabinetry to the digital X-rays, everything is at your fingertips,” commented Dr. Shieh. “We can access the information we need quickly, so there is very little
Another area that required thoughtful planning to meet the needs of two distinct types of dentistry was the sterilization room, which required adequate space and a workflow that could accommodate different set-ups. The L-shaped suite is outfitted with A-dec cabinetry and Midmark M11 and M9 sterilizers.
We didn’t want our patients to feel like they were walking into a dental office when they first step through the door.
Rapid Growth Leads to Additional Treatment Rooms
The office opened in March 2017 with four treatment rooms, and by fall 2017, the doctors added two more. By summer, the practice will have equipped another four rooms, bringing the total to 10. Eventually, they will build the final room into a surgical suite so they can comfortably perform sedation and large surgical cases.
“Being a startup, it is hard to gauge growth, but we have continually increased production each month,” stated Dr. Shieh. “We have added more chairs and accommodate between 120 and 150 new patients a month since we have opened.”
The modern, vibrant office has also increased referrals “tremendously,” adds Dr. Shieh. Patients love the look of the office and are more than happy to spread the word. Dr. Shieh and Dr. Dunlop’s practice continues to gain momentum. They credit Henry Schein and the entire team that worked on the build, with helping them create their dream practice.
- South Shore Smiles
- St. John, IN
- Roger Shieh, DDS and Rachel Dunlop, DDS, MSD
- Square Feet: 4,200
- Treatment Rooms: 10
- Practice Opened: March 2017