Many dentists made changes to their offices during last spring’s COVID-19 shutdown, but Dr. Heather Harris of Brookfield took things a few steps further. When she welcomed patients back to care in June 2020, she also welcomed them to a brand-new office.
“Moving during COVID gave me a great chance to determine what we needed to do to make everybody really safe,” Dr. Harris said. “I was able to make decisions on everything from masks to HEPA filters and everything in between. It’s so exciting to have patients here now. Our patients look around, see that this office is amazing and clean, and I think it helps them feel more comfortable.”
Moving during a pandemic was not the original plan – Harris Family Dental’s relocation had been in the works for over a year. The four-operatory office, 1,500 square feet on the sixth floor of an office tower, was getting tight. Dr. Harris wanted room to grow and add new technology, as well as a streetside location that would be more convenient for patients and staff.
She knew implementing these needs into her practice and doing it proficiently required expert help. Based on her office manager’s positive experience at a previous job, Dr. Harris reached out to Richard Wilde, owner of Preferred Dental Services, the power behind WDA Equipment Solutions. They connected with a real estate agent, toured a few properties and mocked up floor plans, then found the perfect spot – the end suite of a small shopping center not far from the existing dental office.
“Finding a place that exactly suited our office’s needs gave us real momentum and confidence moving forward,” Dr. Harris said. “All of the pieces fit together – this space was just what we were looking for.”
Dr. Harris went on to interview three builders Wilde recommended, eventually choosing DeLeers Construction out of DePere. She and Wilde finalized the floor plan, integrating her practice’s equipment with additional pieces she’d been able to purchase from a nearby dental office that was closing.
“We did walk-throughs at my practice and the other practice and inventoried everything from patient chairs all the way down to resin carpules,” Dr. Harris said. “We made a list of what we should keep and what wasn’t worth keeping. You’d be amazed – thanks to Richard’s expertise, I only purchased new Belmont equipment and cabinets to meet the needs of my new location.”
Construction started March 1, 2020. Dr. Harris and her team intended to keep working at the office tower location while the new office was built, but COVID-19 intervened. “As of March 17, we shut down,” she said. “We did not offer any patient care except emergencies. Thankfully, our construction project continued while our dental office was shut down.”
Like many dental office buildouts, the project was tricky. Coordinating with the builder, Wilde and WDA Equipment Solutions arranged for Dr. Harris’s equipment to be dismantled, moved to and installed at the new office in phases.
“Richard was able to coordinate things you wouldn’t even think of – hiring movers, how many trucks they would need and how many guys,” Dr. Harris said. “We had a lot of moving pieces, and he kept everything really organized. Most importantly, he was amazing with the budget. I was very up front and clear with him about what I could spend, and he was able to coordinate everything in an economical way, with no surprises. It was truly refreshing to work with somebody who was so professional and on-task.”
The new, 2900-square-foot office has earned rave reviews from Dr. Harris, her staff and her patients.
“We have a sign now,” she said. “We have four fully functional operatories, with the equipment and space to add two more. Everything on my wish list is there – there are computers, electric and air-driven handpieces in every operatory, and amazing storage in the back. Our sterilization area is probably twice the size of what it used to be, and it’s all really organized. It’s just phenomenal.”
“Whenever my staff is giving our grand tour, they are sure to point out the spacious, modern sterilization area and the two bathrooms we have in the new suite. We’ve also got a really nice lobby and consult room, a break room for the staff and my own separate office.”
While moving during COVID was chaotic, Dr. Harris says it was also a blessing.
“I feel so fortunate we’re in the space we’re in right now. It feels so clean and organized – it feels really safe. We were able to install a washer and dryer in the unit, and we also have our own furnace and AC units. These tiny details allow us to continue to provide great dentistry to our patients, even during a pandemic.”
She also gives a lot of credit to Wilde and WDA Equipment Solutions for making the move possible.
“I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “Richard was always on task, he answered all my questions, he was professional and he got everything done that we needed to have done. Considering the fact that we accomplished all this – and did it through COVID – I would say that Richard and WDA Equipment Solutions have won our business for the rest of my career.”
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