Story by Kevin Henry, Editor
Photos provided by Patterson Dental
There wasn't much doubt in the mind of Dr. Kim Kutsch in terms of exactly what he wanted in his new office when it was time to build and expand.
Coming back from a three-year sabbatical from the operatory after creating, owning, then selling Kreativ Dental Products, Dr. Kutsch knew it was time to get back into the world of the wet-fingered practitioner. He also knew exactly how he wanted to practice once he returned.
"When I was at Kreativ, we often used a lodge that was built by Welch Allyn in upstate New York as a training facility," Dr. Kutsch recalled. "Once I saw it, I told myself that when I.built my new practice, I wanted it to look just like it and have the same feel. I took lots of pictures and showed them to our architect when we were working on the plans for our new place."
The feel of that lodge has certainly come through in the office of Dr. Kutsch and Dr. Greg Renyer in Albany, Ore., a city of roughly 45,000 people located south of Salem just off Interstate 5. Part of that feel comes from the experience of Dr. Kutsch building the lodge in upstate New York and part comes from the desire to reach out to his clientele and create a pleasant environment for patients and staff.
"I'm an outdoor person and so is Greg," Dr. Kutsch explained. I'm from this area, and I was raised on a farm near here. A lot of our patients are mill workers or people who spend a lot of time in the outdoors. I wanted somewhere that would reflect my lifestyle and speak to our patients. Since I spend the majority of my waking hours here, I wanted this to be somewhere where I felt comfortable. Since this is where my patients are coming for their dental work, I wanted them to be comfortable as well. Albany is a blue-collar town, so to have an office decorated in Art Deco or European style just wouldn't work."
Obviously the style has worked. The Albany Chamber of Commerce awarded Drs. Kutsch and Renyer with its "Best New Construction" award in 2001.
The new office is a far cry from the office Dr. Kutsch acquired in 1982. Built in 1976, the then state-of-the-art building began to show its age and burst at the seams in the mid- to late 1990s.
"The operatories were 9' by 9.5', which were big for that era, but it didn't take us long to outgrow the operatories," Dr. Kutsch said. "We had two doctors, a full-time associate, three specialists who were coming in one day per week, and five hygienists. We were stepping all over each other, and we knew there was no way we were going to fit into that building."
Knowing that, Dr. Kutsch began looking for a new site. Currently located near downtown (in the office where he had gone for dental care as a child), Dr. Kutsch had seen the majority of Albany's growth follow a nationwide pattern and spread away from the downtown area. He found an available pad in the heart of a growth sector, situated across from the city's new shopping mall.
"We knew that's where we wanted to be," Dr. Kutsch stated.
With his location set, Dr. Kutsch now began concentrating on the construction of the office. One of the keys in the design of the office was to expand the operatories to accommodate all of the technology planned for the practice.
"I wanted our operatories 12' by 14' to make room for the lasers, CEREC, and other items," Dr. Kutsch said. "I actually had to argue with some of the people to keep the operatories at a compromised size of 10 by 12. All of the technology I incorporate into the practice doesn't allow for a standard-sized operatory. If you're only interested in a drill-and-fill practice, a 9' by 10' is fine. But there's no way our practice could function in the right way with smaller operatories."
Technology is what drives Dr. Kutsch's practice. When the new building was built, a crawl space of four feet was built under all of the operatories to provide room for wiring and, as Dr. Kutsch puts it, "who knows what other technology we get in the next five to 10 years."
Technology is the cornerstone of Dr. Kutsch's office, partly because of his love for cutting-edge information, and partly because of the desire of his patients.
"In this day and age, our patients are informed consumers. They know what options are out there and they want to find somewhere with the best in dental care," Dr. Kutsch explained. "I have had people drive from as far as eight hours away to come to our practice because they know that we use lasers and a perioscope."
The perioscope, made by Dental View, and Sirona's CEREC 3 are two of Dr. Kutsch's newest technology-driven additions. While the initial investment in technology may seem quite steep, Dr. Kutsch believes it isn't the price tag which should concern dentists.
"If a dentist is only asking how much a piece of technology costs when he or she is deciding whether or not to add it to the practice, he or she is asking the wrong question," Dr. Kutsch said. "The important consideration should be the return on investment. If you can get a return on a piece of technology, then it's a good investment, no matter the up-front cost. I don't think there's a piece of dental technology out there that a dentist couldn't get his or her investment back on within 12 months. In addition, Section 179 (see the September/October 2002 issue of Dental Equipment & Materials) is an amazing thing for dentists.
"A lot of dentists aren't good businesspeople. They focus on the science of dentistry and ignore the business of the practice. Too many go to a trade show and see something they like and buy it on a knee-jerk reaction. A purchase needs to be analyzed economically. If the ROI is right and it will help the patient, it makes sense. If it doesn't, why buy it?
"Dentists also shouldn't forget that adding technology to a practice is going to take some additional education on the part of the dentist and staff, but it's also going to result in a better delivery of healthcare for the patient. That's the most important thing."
Continuing-education courses are a big part of Dr. Kutsch's continuous quest for the latest and best in patient care.
"CE courses allow me to find out if something will be better for the patient and if I'll be able to offer something I haven't been able to offer before," he said. "Some people reach a certain time in their careers and they just stop growing in their professions. I like change. I like to continue to learn and be stimulated. I don't think I could just sit in an office and only do what I was trained to do in dental school. There are better options out there for the patient, and I want to find them."
Taking care of the patient is at the core of Dr. Kutsch's office philosophy. He's quick to share it with new patients, letting them know his philosophy on dental care during the patient's first visit.
"I believe that patients are going to make the best decisions for themselves," he explained. "I tell my patients that I am an educator who is here to help them. People are beginning to expect their dentists to educate them further on what they're reading in magazines and on the Internet.
"Just the other day, a new patient came in and we began talking. He gave me his goals for his oral health. We took some digital X-rays, then sat down and went through them together. After seeing those X-rays, he told me that, for the first time, he understood what was going on inside his mouth. We're now discussing a full-mouth reconstruction for him using the CEREC, and that's something that he wouldn't have thought about without seeing the proof and discussing the options."
And what advice does Dr. Kutsch have for his colleagues?
"If you're looking for a new location, do some solid market research on the location you're considering," he said. "When you're designing your facility, design it with long-term flexibility. Write down where you want your practice to be in five or 10 years, then look at that paper and envision how your office can help you reach that goal. Design your facility around your practice philosophy of care. Go into the project knowing what you want."
To contact Dr. Kim Kutsch and Dr. Greg Renyer: Phone: (541) 928-9299 Web site: www.kutschandrenyer.com