Practice profile: Eilertsen Dental Care
For most of us, those well-intentioned New Year resolutions to make changes for the better will have slipped quietly to the back of our minds, returning inexorably to our comfortable old ways and habits. We don’t like change really, do we!
Well, to bring shame on us all, Margaret Eilertsen is absolutely the exception to that rather predictable rule. The start of 2010 has seen this Dundee University graduate realise massive change in her professional life with a brand new practice in, for her, a brand new location.
After 30 years building a successful practice with a loyal, supportive and, dare one say it, profitable patient base, the majority of practitioners would be content to enjoy the fruits of their labours and see out the remainder of their careers in comparative comfort and security.
Not so Margaret. She spotted what she believes to be a gilt-edged opportunity to open up a state-of-the-art practice in Inverness and so she set about packing her instruments in Dingwall and taking the short trip south to the ever-expanding Highland capital. A brave move, some might say.
Now, after months of building and development work, Margaret has opened the doors to the new practice and begun welcoming patients to what she believes is one of the most modern facilities in the north of Scotland.
And, it is hoped, her husband, Eilert, will join her at the new practice in a year or so once he has fulfilled his commitments to the practice in Dingwall. There’s even an outside chance that the couple’s newly qualified (from Dundee, too) daughter, Jenny, could be persuaded to join them. Talk about keeping it in the family!
Margaret explained: “We’d loved being in Dingwall but more recently we’d been looking to move the practice to Inverness. I’d watched the increasing level of house building in Inverness and figured that there was a real opportunity for a practice like the one I was thinking about.
“It was just a question of finding the right property, which eventually we did, and the right company to work with us on the development which, in NV Design and Construction, we also achieved.
“The building was just a glass square of an office block that we bought. I think we got a reasonably good deal on it because the property crash meant we could buy this building for a reduced price as opposed to what it was on offer for before.
“Buying this style of building was perfect for us because it meant we could really shape what we thought would work best both for ourselves and the patients.
“We just have the ground floor of the building but it is a very modern building and it has given us plenty of options. For example the floor covering runs up the wall so you don’t have any skirting boards and corners where germs can collect and we have a separate air-conditioning duct for the sterilising room to ensure that the contaminated air from the dirty instruments is not conveyed throughout the whole practice.
“We went with the latest guidelines for disinfection units and we’ve incorporated all those into the room with guidance from the governing body. It’s absolutely up to speed in terms of the regulations, which is one of the advantages of having a new building as opposed to trying to convert an old house or a shop,” she said.
But it was not all plain sailing during the development phase and Margaret warned others thinking about setting up a new practice to make sure they fully understand what they are taking on.
“We had originally planned a more open-plan approach but we weren’t able to do that. So basically what we did was to divide the practice into a patient section with a separate corridor at the back to where all the service part of the operation is so we still had a protected fire corridor for escape.
“The bottom line is that you can make a design but if you don’t meet the regulations then you have to be prepared to change so you are compliant.”
There are now four surgeries in the new practice in Hope House at the City’s Cradlehall Business Park and Margaret hasn’t stinted on the equipment that she has installed. She has bought in the latest Sirona Teneo chair, one of the first in Scotland.
She said: “The reason we were keen on this model was that it has the facility to do implants using the chair as opposed to having a separate implant motor for it. So the implant part of the proceedings is incorporated in that chair which is one of the reason why we were so keen to have it.”
Allied to this they have also enlisted Ian Wilson of IW Technology Services to bring the latest IT systems to the practice. Margaret added: “Everything is digital, the x-rays are digital, we can take intra-oral photographs in each dental chair. And if we need to send patients to specialists locally we can email them the x-rays, so the IT is absolutely state-of-the-art as well.
“Ian Wilson has been wonderful, I’m not sure he’s so pleased with us, we’re a bit behind the times but we’re working on it!”
The practice also has a dedicated hygienist’s room and Margaret explained that they are very keen on prevention and family care. They offer the full range of dental services from implant and orthodontics through to tooth whitening and other cosmetic procedures. Margaret currently has two nurses, a receptionist and an office manager in place but she has plans to possibly take on an associate towards the end of the year.
“It’s been a fantastic challenge and everyone who has worked on the project has done a great job. I’m really looking forward to building the practice here in Inverness. I’m sure we have an exciting future to look forward to,” she added.
The new practice has been designed and built for Margaret Eilertsen by NV Design and Construction.
After seeing examples of their previous projects and being impressed with the quality of their work, Margaret approached NV’s Farahbod Nakhaei and Homan Varghaei and got them on board.
Farahbod explained: “We worked very closely with Margaret in terms of what her interests were, and we also looked at the context of the building. It backs onto a nice wooded area so we took inspiration from that and introduced some walnut cladding into the design of the practice as a way of defining the circulation routes in the building.
“The office building had a lot of floor to ceiling glazing and was very bright so what we wanted to do was use that to encourage a feeling of light and space. The whole design was based around keeping the light filtering through the whole building.
“We then introduced some glass partitioning as a way of screening the surgeries from the public areas and at the same time allowing light to filter through into the public areas.
“Similarly, the reception area is a free-standing space against the glazing to the outside allowing light to filter into the waiting area.”
Margaret added: “It’s been a very truncated process but everyone involved has pulled together to make it happen. All the people that Farahbod has brought in have worked hard and often long hours to get it up and running as quickly as possible. I’m delighted.”