After 47 years of making do, hygienist gets her dream operatory
Nancy Miller, RDH, practiced dental hygiene for 47 years before she ever had new equipment, but “as a two-day-a-week RDH, you take what you can get and make do,” she says. She visited plenty of other practices as a clinical consultant, though, and often found herself thinking, “Wow! How I would have loved to have had something like that!”
Then along came a young—and left-handed—doctor to the Green Bay, Wisconsin, practice she’d been at for 24 years. His arrival coincided with a general breaking down of the equipment, and the practice was having a hard time finding parts. At this time, Nancy says, “the owner-doctor said, ‘in for a penny, in for a pound,’ took out a bigger loan, and redid all five of our office’s treatment rooms. And he asked for our input (smart man—though I’m sure the differing opinions frustrated him at times) and came through with a home run as far as I’m concerned.”
Nancy Miller’s brand-new operatory has plenty of natural light and an open feel.
The doctor hired local contractors to remove the old operatory fixtures, and the new cabinets were laid out to make better use of the space, opening up the small operatories. Everything coordinated with the practice’s finishes and color scheme.
One of the best new operatory fixtures was a new patient chair, a Midmark UltraComfort in chocolate brown. “The chair’s back is thin enough for me to get my legs under,” writes Nancy, “so I don’t have to reach uncomfortably to see and work. It can be easily shifted from left to right to accommodate my southpaw doctor for exams. Its preset buttons are the first I’ve had that lower the patient slowly, so they don’t feel like they are going to shoot off the chair! It has a great articulated headrest (the only one that seems to work after 47 years of screwing around with older versions) that seems to accommodate more necks. This allows me to scoot around the head of the chair on my Queen Anne Chair (QAC) saddle operator stool (Crown Seating) to stay in an ergonomic position. My body says yeah!”
The operatory update wasn’t just about new fixtures and seating, though—it included plenty of new technology for both patients and providers alike. Previously, Nancy’s only computer was “a small monitor mounted off to the side at the foot of the patient chair . . . Can you say HIPAA violations waiting to happen?!” Now her operatory has a big overhead screen to educate patients, two monitors for the provider (one behind the patient for entering private information, and the other mirrored to the overheard monitor), and a wireless keyboard and mouse.
Patients can view educational materials or intraoral photos on this large screen (or just enjoy the view).
Nancy explains, “We use YouTube relaxation videos and favor aquarium or nature scenery. Unless the patient is undergoing a lengthy dental procedure, we discourage any television-type viewing. I prefer to have the patient’s own radiographs up to explain what they are, why we take them, and what is going on in their mouth. And, of course, I project intraoral camera images there too in order to educate them to any problems or conditions they may have.”
The new operatories are decked out with clinical technology also. “I have digital radiography and an intraoral camera right there with no software or hardware issues,” Nancy says. “We also ditched our 26-year-old x-ray machines and installed new Progeny Preva DC units (Midmark) in the two primary hygiene rooms, and we have a new Nomad Pro 2 portable unit (KaVo Dental) for the other three treatment rooms. The Nomad comes in very handy to take quick shots without having to reposition the patient.”
There is also plenty of room in her operatory for her USI magnetostrictive scaler and Hu-Friedy EMS Air-Flow Master Piezon. “This allows me to choose what technology I want to use on every patient without having to get up and set it up or open a drawer or cabinet. And my HVE [high-volume evacuators] suction and water syringe and handpieces are right there also, no stretching and reaching! The Air-Flow Master Piezon gives me the ability to use airflow therapy on patients using glycine or erythritol powders. I offer advanced value-added service to those patients with implants and orthodontic appliances as I can easily and thoroughly debride the biofilm from all surfaces, and it is gentle and quicker.
Now Nancy Miller has everything she needs within reach as she works.
“Beautiful new laminate flooring and a soothing paint color scheme complement the already (thankfully) large picture windows that let in natural light,” Nancy says. “I feel as though I am going into a new job every day with the same great longtime patients and wonderful team I’ve worked with for years. With our collaboration, my doctor, Aaron Bushong, and our office manager, Caity, pulled all of this together in about five days after weeks of planning. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Five days?! If only all renovations went that quickly (or ended this well). Thank you for sharing your op with us, Nancy!
Editor’s note: Are you proud of your op? Share it with us! Send an email to [email protected] about the great place where you work. We enjoy your pictures, too!