Overcoming Devastating Fire Leads to Rebirth of Iowa General Dental Practice

Mint Springs Dentistry - Mason City, IA | Noemi Cruz-Orcutt, DDS

Mint Springs Dentistry Check-InDr. Noemi Cruz-Orcutt, owner of Mint Springs Dentistry in Mason City, Iowa, had planned to gradually update the general dentistry practice she purchased in 2015, operatory by operatory, as she grew her patient load. She had already completed the renovation of one treatment room when an unexpected disaster struck on New Year’s Eve in 2018. As her family prepared to host a New Year’s Eve party, an electrical fire roared through her practice, consuming everything inside. There were piles of ash everywhere she looked, melted equipment, walls ripped apart to dig out hot embers and significant water damage. It looked like a scene from a dystopian movie, and when the fire was finally put out, the office was a
total loss.

“After the fire, the practice was completely gutted,” said Dr. Cruz-Orcutt. “All that remained was the foundation and the four brick standing walls.” She recalls sitting in the parking lot next door and being asked by responders if she wanted to tour the damage. She didn’t. She had seen enough. She didn’t want to call her team to tell them about the fire; it was New Year’s Eve after all. But word got out around the tight-knit community and she started getting calls from them. By 7 am New Year’s Day, community members rallied and were onsite with her, boarding up windows and cleaning up debris. She promised her team that somehow, some way she would take care of them.

Dr. Cruz-Orcutt’s carefully laid out plans, to expand conservatively over time, were no longer an option. She no longer had a working dental space – or any equipment – to see patients. Working through the inevitable insurance process was going to take time, too. She needed to get back to work and continue caring for patients, but where and how?


Bright and fresh, the waiting room has been reborn into a casual, inviting space with leather seating and a cheerful accent wall.

She contacted her Henry Schein Field Sales Consultant, Brett Drea, and together with Jason Helkenn, Equipment Sales Specialist, they began to lay out a game plan. They already knew her long-term practice plans – now they had to help her achieve them sooner than expected.

In just seven weeks from start to finish, they rebuilt what was formerly a pediatric medical office into a fully plumbed dental space! The next challenge facing the doctor, noted Mr. Helkenn, was dental equipment. Instead of following the obvious path of renting equipment, he had another idea.

“I worked with Midmark and KaVo Kerr to provide dental chairs, units, lights, stools, and Nomad [X-ray units] to use in the temporary space,” explained Mr. Helkenn. “I worked closely with Dr. Cruz-Orcutt’s insurance company to provide temporary equipment at no charge to help allocate rental fee funds for new equipment.”

Thanks to their generous temporary donations, the doctor was able to stretch her equipment budget in the rebuild.

“Purchases of a 2D panoramic X-ray unit and mechanical equipment were spec’d out for the new office and utilized in the temporary space until it was completed,” added Mr. Helkenn.

Rebuilding from Scratch – Opportunity to Redesign Practice


Rebuilding gave the doctor and her team the chance to reevaluate the workflow of the office and make changes, such as relocating the sterilization center, to be more efficient.

By late February, Dr. Cruz-Orcutt and her team were seeing patients again inside the temporary space. In the meantime, plans moved forward to rebuild the existing practice. The doctor chose to leave the six operatories in the same approximate locations, converting them from single-entry into two closed-bay hygiene rooms and four open-bay treatment rooms. Through equipment configuration, the team improved the use of the space.

In May 2019, Mr. Helkenn and Mr. Drea arranged a private plane to take the Mint Springs Dentistry staff to the Midmark facility in Ohio to get a hands-on look at equipment options. Dr. Cruz-Orcutt selected the Midmark Elevance chairs with upgraded leather, doctor stools, center islands, rear delivery units, rear and side cabinets, and LED lights. She also selected the Progeny Preva intraoral X-ray system, and along the imaging corridor, a niche was built out for the panoramic X-ray machine.

“Dr. Cruz-Orcutt was drawn to Midmark because of its aesthetic design and how it looked and would fit in with her interior design goals,” said Mr. Helkenn. “She also wanted to make sure the whole clinical space was utilized better than the previous floor plan, so the sterilization placement changed from the previous office to be more centralized and now provides a better flow for her staff while processing instruments. The sterilization area is a featured area in the clinical portion of her office.”

The galley-style sterilization center was a custom build, and is outfitted with a SciCan Hydrim G4, Midmark M11 autoclave, QUATTROcare Plus, and VistaPure water system.

Sterilization Room

The doctor’s staff applauded the decision to move the sterilization center when the doctor rebuilt. Now, it’s centrally located and equipped with state-of-the-art technology from SciCan and Midmark, and features QUATTROcare Plus and the VistaPure water system.

“The workflow within the operatories and the sterilization center have dramatically improved,” confirmed Dr. Cruz-Orcutt. “The staff is always mentioning how great it looks. They really like all the storage and designated areas for equipment that we have, making the workflow better. The staff also loves the sterilization center.”

Dr. Cruz-Orcutt admits she enjoys restorative work and seeing how the change to a person’s smile can improve their life. She also treats TMJ, and therefore, she invested in equipment that maximizes her dentistry in these areas. In addition to the Progeny Preva intraoral X-ray systems, she bought a DEXIS Titanium sensor and a digital intraoral scanner for evaluating a patient’s occlusal.

Imaging Alcove

Reconfiguring the space allowed the doctor to build out a niche for her panoramic X-ray machine in the hallway outside of the treatment rooms.

“I utilize my intraoral scanner for digital impressions for fixed prosthodontics, TMJ orthotics, and orthodontics,” detailed Dr. Cruz-Orcutt. “I recently purchased the FormLabs 3D printer and will be printing models. I utilize the 2D panoramic machine to evaluate TMJs and any pathosis routinely.” The doctor asserts that her intraoral scanner has elevated the level of care she can provide in several ways.

“With our intraoral scanner, our efficiency and case acceptance has increased dramatically. Patients are very excited when we get to use this!”

Gray Palette in Mid-Century Modern Design

Even though much of the attention in the new build out was on restoring equipment and functionality to the practice, the doctor took the opportunity to redefine the theme and the environment in which she and her team offered patient care.

The office was gutted to the exterior brick walls and rebuilt in shades of gray with bright green accents, in keeping with the practice name. Luxury vinyl flooring winds through the practice, in a rich and warm wood-plank look, and cross-hatched charcoal carpeting provides texture. Black and brown leather furniture in a mid-century modern posture line in the waiting area, which is brightened by massive windows and a colorful feature wall. The walls are dotted with exquisite naturalist photos, taken by the doctor herself.

Cabinetry, both in the waiting area and the operatories, commands attention for its sleek gray modern style and its crisp quartz countertops.

Treatment Room

Crisp and contemporary, the practice has six operatories outfitted with Midmark Elevance chairs and equipment.

COVID-19 Shuts Down Office A Second Time

COVID-19 Check-In Process

The doctor’s practice returned even stronger after the fire, but a few months later, COVID hit. Dr. Cruz-Orcutt said her patients and team have adjusted well to the new safety protocols, and credits their adaptability and perseverance to going through the challenge of the fire together.

Mint Springs Dentistry reopened in November 2019 only to be shut down a few months later by COVID-19. This could have devastated the doctor and her staff, but Dr. Cruz-Orcutt said she believes the fire tested their resolve and brought them closer, so they were strong enough to handle this next hardship. The office reopened in May 2020, with many protective measures in place, said Dr. Cruz-Orcutt.

“We have every other operatory in use, and the front door is locked,” said the doctor, noting they have limited patients inside at any given time. They screen patients for symptoms before each appointment, take temperatures, and sanitize diligently after each patient. In addition, they have a new HVAC ventilation system, additional protective protocols for patient and staff safety, and deep disinfecting is done regularly.

To further enhance the air quality, they installed HEPA filters, MERV 16 filters, and have UV lights in the HVAC system. They are also using Isolite® and DryShield, per best practices. Mint Springs Dentistry has overcome trying times that might have destroyed other dental offices, by reinvesting with an updated, streamlined workflow, high-quality furniture, and digital equipment.

“Since we rebuilt, our new patient count has increased more than 50%,” said Dr. Cruz-Orcutt. “We are averaging 25 new patients a month, when before we might have had an average of 8 new patients a month. Our production and case acceptance have increased as well.”

“I love coming to work, love the new space, the colors, the comfort, the feel,” exclaimed Dr. Cruz-Orcutt. “When patients arrive, they are always complimentary of the office. Patients of all ages and genders love how the practice looks and they let us know about it!” ♦

Team picture

Left to right: Bill Buckley, Equipment Service Technician; Mark Bremseth, Regional Operations Manager; Dr. Noemi Cruz-Orcutt; Jason Helkenn, Equipment Sales Specialist; Brett Drea, Field Sales Consultant.