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Office of the Month: Making every inch count

Aug. 1, 1996
Doctor Ellis R. Disick refused to listen to colleagues who said he couldn`t fit all the features he wanted into office space of just under 1,250 square feet. "After having practiced for 23 years in an even smaller office," he explains, "I was totally familiar with the way I practiced and having dealt with the failings as well as appreciating the conveniences of my old office, I felt that I could make maximum use of the new space."

Ron Combs, Associate Editor

Doctor Ellis R. Disick refused to listen to colleagues who said he couldn`t fit all the features he wanted into office space of just under 1,250 square feet. "After having practiced for 23 years in an even smaller office," he explains, "I was totally familiar with the way I practiced and having dealt with the failings as well as appreciating the conveniences of my old office, I felt that I could make maximum use of the new space."

For the White Plains, New York, practitioner, making maximum use of the raw space that he had selected in the corner of a medical-dental professional building meant fitting in four full-sized treatment rooms, a laboratory, private office, reception area, business area, an OSHA-acceptable sterilization room and two bathrooms. "Couldn`t be done," he was told.

He did it by adapting what he learned from office design courses and visits in other dental offices to the way he practices as well as establishing close working relationships with architect John Cutsumpas and decorator Nancy Briechle. It did require attention to every detail, inch by inch, and some good fortune-"I was able to store my compressor, vacuum and bulk supplies in a small storage closet on the same floor, saving valuable room inside the office."

Among the design features Dr. Disick points to that are working well for doctor, staff and patients are:

- Double-entry treatment rooms that are wheelchair accessible from both entrances. "The concept of a hygiene room was something that had to be eliminated in our office design," he says. "By designing all treatment rooms to be identically equipped, all rooms can be hygiene rooms, prosthetic rooms or operative rooms. This allows us to have tremendous scheduling flexibility."

- A central sterilization and supply area, which is equidistant from the four operatories, and a laboratory that doubles as a darkroom.

- A business area that boasts a rounded reception desk situated so that departing patients must pass it, yet is private enough to allow for financial conversations and appointment scheduling. "One of the really surprising results of this arrangement is the dramatic increase in payment at the time of patient visits and payment by credit cards."

Dr. Disick says that he has fulfilled his needs to practice dentistry efficiently and productively by not letting design dictate the way he works. "I enjoy working in my reduced-stress environment and appreciate all the wonderful guidance and help given to me by the experts. But it is the doctor who must determine the final office arrangement because it`s the doctor who knows how he or she works. So, I was determined not to let other people tell me how to practice. I told the experts how I work and then let their ingenuity and creativity go to work to provide the most workable, comfortable place for me."

Click here to enlarge image

Dr. Disick "told the experts how I work and then let their ingenuity and creativity go to work to provide the most workable, comfortable place for me." His new, relatively small office has all the features that he wanted.

Click here to enlarge image
Click here to enlarge image

Double-entry treatment rooms are wheelchair-accessible from both entrances. (photos by Dr. Ira Kotler)

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