By Linda Holeman, Assistant Editor
Vincent Trimboli, DDS, can thank his older brother, Mike, for his career as a pediatric dentist. Growing up in Springlfield, Mass., the two frequently engaged in marathon hockey matches. During one particularly heated battle, the elder Trimboli delivered the ulitimate hip check, which fractured Vincent's maxillary incisors. The result was many, many visits to the local pediatric dentist that kindled within Trimboli an intense, unwavering interest in the profession. "I was nine years old," he recalls with a chuckle, "and I knew from that point that I was going to be a dentist ... a pediatric dentist."
Dr. Trimboli, a first-generation Italian American, still lives in Western Mass., surrounded by a vast network of friends and family that now includes his wife, Debra, who operates a garden center and floral design shop, and son Vincent III, a first grader. After graduating from the University of Connecticut's pediatric dentistry program in 1990, he returned to the area and set up shop immediately.
"Western Massachusetts was significantly deficient in pediatric dentists — and still is to this day. I started my practice from ground zero. I was fortunate to lease recently vacated dental practice. It was a small, three-chair office. The start-up costs were low and I was able to grow at a pace I was comfortable with," he says.
The thriving industrial area soon provided Dr. Trimboli with a surplus of patients. After two years, he purchased an 80-year-old house within the town's center and converted it into another three-chair practice. It was the right choice at the time, says Dr. Trimboli, because, "I wanted to be able to hang a shingle and be a part of the community."
However, Dr. Trimboli's practice was soon overflowing once again. The dearth of pediatric dentists in the area combined with the economic boom of the 1990s swelled his active patient rolls to more than 6,000. Too many patients may seem like a happy problem to have, but for Dr. Trimboli and his staff, the situation had reached crisis proportions. There was no room for additional hygienists or assistants, and the possibility of turning away patients loomed. The obvious answer was to either move to a larger, pre-existing facility, or custom build a new one. But Dr. Trimboli was loath to give up his current location that was so vital to his role as an active citizen within his community. His solution was simple: he would build a new office on his existing lot.
"We had to petition the town leaders for permission to build within the area, and they readily agreed," says Trimboli. "We set forth building the new office while running the practice out of the existing building. I definitely ended up with a few more grays in the process."
It takes a village
Dr. Trimboli dove into the project with a single-minded vision of what he wanted to achieve. Visits to the New England shore impressed him with its "village" ambience, and it was this ambience he wanted recreate. He also felt it was important to include elements that reflected his personality.
"I knew what I wanted," says Trimboli. "I started out by talking with local dentists who had nice, new offices and took it from there. I did use a gentleman to do some sketches — to map out where the rooms would go, that sort of thing. A very rough outline was developed, but I took over from there. With the help of my building contractors' talented engineers, we were able to realize my vision of the building."
Construction began in late March 2002 and was completed exactly one year later. The building is 3,000 square feet, with an additional 3,000 square feet in the basement. The upstairs contains 10 operatories that accommodate eight hygienists and three dental assistants. The flow of the office lends itself to multiple treatment situations:
1.) Private treatment rooms for young children who may be fearful, uncooperative, or easily distracted by an open floor plan, and 2.) Open areas for older children who like to be treated next to a sibling or friend, as well as a semi-open area for orthodontics and light restorative procedures.
"We have the best of all worlds — open bay areas and closed bay areas," he says. "Closed bays are necessary for the occasional 'behavioral management' child — you don't want them upsetting the other patients."
Five treatment rooms feature side delivery units, and all have ceiling-mounted lights. Dr. Trimboli believes this set-up is the least threatening for young patients who might otherwise be intimidated by over-the-patient units or pole-mounted lights. The adolescent treatment areas feature rear and pole delivery units.
The main floor also has a separate radiographic area, three consultation rooms, and a sterilization area, while the downstairs/basement area houses the break room, utilities, and the doctor's private office. "Every square inch of the upstairs space is dedicated to patient care," says Trimboli.
Visitors entering the building for the first time are immediately entranced by Dr. Trimboli's "exterior on the interior" concept.
"When you walk down our hallway, you feel like you're taking a walk down Main St. in a New England village," says Trimboli. "The interior is without a doubt the most unique part of our design. It is a 'village scape' with multiple textures comprising the walls — stucco, cedar shakes, cedar siding, and scalloped shakes. The waiting area is real stucco. The hallway down to the operatories is cedar siding, scalloped shakes, and wooden awnings, and the exterior wall sconces give a feeling of being outdoors.
"When I was designing my new office, one thing I knew I wanted was to get away from primary colors. I also wanted to design an office with broad appeal for all ages — from age three to adolescents and even their parents!"
Every room has its own theme. The Disney theme extends to several of the treatment areas, while a stunning, hand-painted mural adorns the walls of another. The mural is the work of local artist Heather Newton, a friend of Dr. Trimboli's wife. "It was her first professional commission, and she did a beautiful job," says Trimboli.
Dr. Trimboli deftly added another motif that delights his older patients (and their parents) and reflects his personal style: Beatlemania! Here patients are treated to an assortment of fun Beatles memorabilia that includes posters, albums, and autographs from the Fab Four. "I'm a huge Beatles fan! And you'd be surprised at how many adolescents are very, very aware of their music. So much of current music was directly influenced by them. Most children today recognize their songs - especially after I sing them a line or two from 'Yellow Submarine.'"
Vintage guitars are another passion, one that segues nicely with his devotion to the Beatles. "From a very young age I've been fascinated with guitars. I don't play — though my seven-year old son does — but I've always been passionate about music, especially guitar music — Roy Clark to Carlos Santana to Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix. When I was in dental school, I met a friend, an awesome guitar player named Mike Grams, DDS, of Michigan City, Ind. He inspired me to start collecting, and we're friends to this day."
Dr. Trimboli's impressive guitar collection is a main focal point of the office. Prominently displayed are rare guitars similar to those the Fab Four used, including a 1964 Hoffner base, a 1967 Gretsch Country Gent, and 1978 Richenbacher.
"The design was done as the building was being finished," states Dr. Trimboli. "There was never an absolute game plan. Contractors — staff — everyone was allowed to give their two cents as we went along. We would finish a small section, step back, and say, 'Yes, I like this', or 'No, it needs something else.' The total costs for design and interior decor were a small fraction of what some doctors pay for an office of 6,000 feet.
"I'm proud of the uniqueness of my office and that I was able to realize my vision," says Trimboli. He advises other dentists who want to do the same to ask as many colleagues as possible about what they did.
"Pick a theme or idea that is different," he concludes. "Apply thoughts and ideas of geniuses such as Walt Disney or others to guide you in venture. Add things that are unique to your personality so that you will love to come to work, and your final result will wow your patients, friends, and colleagues."