Optometrist Perspective by Harvey Yamamoto, OD

Harvey Yamamoto, ODAt the beginning of 2012, I told my staff and friends that this was going to be a special year for us.  Last year, I had let it slip that my 50th year since I graduated had slip by unnoticed thus I promised myself that I would do something special during 2012 as some sort of private celebration.

I had thought that it was time to do a “makeover” of my practice. I began by retiling the front entrance to our waiting room.  That is when an article by Dr. Gerber appeared:  “You cannot afford Not to do it.”  His first two points rang loudly in my ear.  Point #1: He stated that we should move our location.  Since we own our own building that made point #1 moot.  Point #2 stated that we should remodel.   Now that made a lot of sense.   My retired dentist noticed the change of the new tiling in our office and he remarked, “While attending CE lectures, they are told to do something to their practice every 5 years. “  He remarked on how nice the new tiles had made our practice look.   That was very inspiring and I wanted to do a bit more.

I began to discuss my thoughts about remodeling.  One suggestion that I considered was wood flooring in the exam rooms.  My first thought was that would be too much work because it would mean that we would have to empty the contents of our exam rooms before we could undertake that project.

I called a staff meeting and passed along the ideas to them.  I was pleasantly surprised that each one agreed with that project.  We began that project on Feb 1, 2012.  It turned out so well that we completed the 2nd exam room.  Wow!  The entire staff became so enthusiastic with the project that they pleaded with me to do a complete makeover to our contact lens room also.

Once the oak floors were installed, we all decided that we needed new custom made desks and cabinets to complete the exam rooms.  We selected a light colored veneer for the first exam room which turned out so well that we decided to select a dark walnut veneer for the contact lens room.

We soon realized that the dark walnut made the room appear too dark so we installed brighter fluorescent fixtures to brighten that room.  The dark desk and cabinetry gave that room a very distinctive and elegant appearance.  We then decided to tear down our contact lens training area.  That area had a built-in sink so we had to order custom made desktop with a new sink complete with overhead cabinetry.   This project was completed by the middle of March.  Patients immediately noticed the nice new training area, sink, cabinetry, etc.  We also had special cabinetry build to house our many tools and lab supplies.

I must admit that I was beginning to like what we were doing as it gave our staff a shot in the arm.  I decided to continue with this remodeling project.  We decided to build more oak veneer cabinetry wherever we could find extra space.  One by one, each room began to have that “new look”.

After much thought, we decided to lay over 650 sq. ft. of tiling to our main lab area.  This was going to be a huge project with so many tables and heavy equipment to move about.  Working 24/7, I completed this task in 6 days.   What a difference this made as the old worn out linoleum needed a new facelift.  We must have thrown out several truckloads of stuff that we had been keeping in various places.  Once all that clutter was thrown out, we had enough storage space for our supplies.

The final project was to design two desks for my office where I could work uninterrupted during and after working hours.  It must be spacious enough to hold all the electronic communication hardware and yet be comfortable enough to do tons of work.  On May 30, 2012, my office received a complete makeover and I have to stop, look and admire my new surroundings each morning.  It’s like a breath of fresh air.

A remodeling job does not have to be as extensive as ours.  It can be a general cleanup of all that clutter which you might have kept for 20 plus years.  It might be a nice paint job on the walls of your exam room, reception area, dispensing room, waiting room, hallway, etc, etc.

At times, it might just be a new piece of furniture or a new piece of equipment.  Your patients are sure to notice.  Most importantly, it sends a message to your employee’s that you care about their surroundings.  Dr. Gerber was right:  “You cannot afford Not to do it.”  So, if you have not done anything to your practice in the past 10 years or so please think about sprucing it up a bit.

Cabinet makers: Here is what I’ve found out during our recent remodeling project(s).  Most cabinet shops are more than eager to sit down with you and draw up plans for your practice.  It is not rocket science to sit down and put on paper thoughts about how you wanted your new furniture to look.

Here is a perfect example:  When we decided to do over our contact lens room I gathered my thoughts quite a bit.  Each day I would begin to sit down and draw up plans for that room.  It must have taken at least 6 such designs before I came up with the final draft.  The drawers were custom made to hold contact lenses as well as the overhead cabinets. This meant that I had to draw plans for each different trial set that we had.  It took quite a bit of planning but the final result was a room built to my specifications.  I had allotted $25,000 for this project and it was worth every cent that we spent.  I feel like a kid again and it has definitely resulted in a shot in my arm.  I enjoy spending time in my practice as it has the comforts of home.

The promise which I made to myself that 2012 was going to be a special year for us has been fulfilled and completed.  Our members are always welcome to stop by for a tour of our new facilities as it might give you some ideas on what you can or would like to do for your practice. In the end, I was thanking our cabinet maker for giving our practice a complete makeover. The new wood laminate flooring makes the chairs easy to move about and it gives our rooms that “rich” appearance that had been lacking for all these years.  Each room also received a new coat of paint giving it that fresh smell and look.  I would encourage you to purchase the most expensive paint that you can find.  You get what you pay for.  Have fun.

I also noticed that our new flooring in the lab allows for a smoother flow of the work especially since we removed a lot of clutter which we had accumulated over 25 years.  Isn’t your office due for a facelift?

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