The Cherkas Dental Center, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
By Dr. Leonard Cherkas
The scene was unreal. After serving the Horsham, Penn., community since 1976, Dr. Leonard Cherkas’s life work was now a smoldering, charred building, a result of a tragic fire on April 7, 2013. Inside, everything the doctor had built over his career was in ashes. Nothing could be salvaged. It would have been very easy for Dr. Cherkas to give up, to chalk up the disaster as a heartbreaking and untimely end to a long and successful career. He battled many different emotions, watching his practice destroyed so abruptly, and it was just as difficult to think about what to do next. Some advised him to let it go and retire. But he wasn’t ready to give up. He convened a staff meeting at his home and announced his intention to rebuild the practice, and not just rebuild in the image of what it was before, but to “recreate and elevate” the practice so it would be as he had always dreamed it could be. Those three words became his motto as he embarked on the journey to a new office.
Henry Schein Equipment Sales Specialist Mary Robbins and Field Sales Consultant Kevin Rizzotte heard the news of the fire and were devastated for the doctor and his team.
“Years ago, I worked in a dental office that experienced a fire, too. I could relate to their loss and their pain,” sympathized Robbins.
Even though Dr. Cherkas was not a Henry Schein customer, Ms. Robbins wanted to offer her condolences and assistance, so she reached out to him.
Doctor Shares His Vision
To her surprise, Dr. Cherkas called back quickly, and they met for lunch the very next day. Over the course of a four-hour meeting, he shared his thoughts and emotions about moving on from his old office, and the hope he had about starting again in a new office. Through that conversation, he even began to talk about the type of office it could be and the equipment he would want. He had specific preferences for Pelton & Crane equipment and envisioned a move from paper charts and outdated technology (they had lost 4,500 patient records in the fire) to a state-of-the-art office that would be fully digital. He and Ms. Robbins even began scouting new locations, and something that seemed unthinkable just a few days earlier began to take shape.
After careful consideration, Dr. Cherkas chose Henry Schein to build his new office and moved his entire relationship over. Henry Schein could offer him the product lines he wanted and provide everything—from office design to technology to supplies—in a truly turnkey solution.
The doctor and his staff continued to care for patients in a temporary space while the new office in nearby Willow Grove was being built. He found space in a professional building that was close to most of the major highways and his previous office—convenient for both new patients and existing ones accustomed to the old location. Henry Schein’s National Design Group worked on the plans, and the doctor hired a local builder to carry them out.
Less than a year after the flames were put out, the new 2,400-square-foot, state-of-the art building has given Dr. Cherkas a fresh start more than 35 years into his career! Today, he and two specialists, including a periodontist and an endodontist, offer patients the very latest in dental care and technology in a soothing and luxurious environment, an honest reflection of their expertise and skill.
Quick Decisions: Choosing Equipment and Technology
With such a short timeline, Ms. Robbins and Dr. Cherkas had to work fast to make equipment selections. Together, they attended the AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) convention, held in Philadelphia, an excellent one-stop location for Dr. Cherkas to get an in-depth look at a whole array of imaging options. He favored the image quality of the Planmeca ProMax, which he integrated with Planmeca sensors and Planmeca Romexis software. Because he was already accustomed to tomography and panoramic imaging, it was a natural transition to the digital technology. He was also happy to know how easy it would be to upgrade to 3D in the future.
The loss of his patient records in the fire was another motivating factor to move everything over to digital, and he chose Dentrix as his practice-management software. It not only allowed for a streamlined and backed-up patient record system, in which the digital images could be stored right with the patient files, but it also allowed him to show the images to patients on the chairside computer screens during treatment discussions.
Next, Dr. Cherkas and Ms. Robbins traveled to North Carolina to visit Pelton & Crane for a whirlwind day of selecting operatory equipment and furniture. Knowing he was on a very tight deadline, he completed his selections before returning home! He chose Pelton & Crane’s Spirit 1800 chairs and Helios 1800 lights in three of the four treatment rooms, and in the fourth room, he installed a Spirit 3000 chair and Helios 3000 lights.
A private office for Dr. Cherkas was plumbed and wired, on Ms. Robbins recommendation, to prepare for future expansion. The sterilization area is a spacious galley style, with Pelton & Crane and Midmark equipment. It flows smoothly from dirty to clean, and the separate entrance and exit allow the staff to move through easily. Next to the sterilization area is a small lab where some of the practice’s restorative work is done in-house.
I wanted to recreate a dental practice that focused on the individual needs of my patients,” said Dr. Cherkas
“I needed a trusted team to work beside me, and who would not only start the project but also finish it well,” said Dr. Cherkas. “Mary and Kevin walked us through every step of the process in order to make sure we designed the most sophisticated office with attention to detail,” said Dr. Cherkas. “Henry Schein did everything in their power to make sure that our transition to the new office was seamless.”
Upscale Décor Soothes Patients
In keeping with the goal of giving patients elevated care in a recreated space, great attention was paid to the décor so it would put visitors at ease and pamper them during their appointment. The reception area is a rich palette of neutral colors and textures. A natural stone fireplace draws visitors to the cozy beige and cream suede chairs placed next to it. A beautiful coffered
ceiling holds an oversized wrought-iron pendant light that— when paired with the stone and lush fabrics—gives a sophisticated but rustic feel to the room. The rounded check-in area, topped with granite and lined with the same stone as the fireplace, ties the reception area together into a cohesive, attractive space for patients.
Throughout the entire office, patients are surrounded by rich cherry wood, granite countertops, and striking arched doorways: touches that make it seem more like a home and less like a dental office.
Out of the Ashes Comes a Silver Lining
When Dr. Cherkas decided to rebuild the office, it was a very personal decision, and it wasn’t easy. He was entering the twilight of his career, and to take on this project and literally start over seemed very daunting. To do it, he had to change his lifestyle and double his work hours. He had to work through the emotions of losing the old office while trying to look forward to the future of a new office. All difficult tasks, but in the end, Dr. Cherkas was able to rebuild, recreate, and elevate his practice into exactly what he wanted it to be, and he did it in eight months.
“I wanted to recreate a dental practice that focused on the individual needs of my patients,” said Dr. Cherkas, “and elevate the facility to include state-of-the-art technology in order to produce the ultimate experience in dental care. The Cherkas Dental Center marks a new era of comprehensive and cosmetic dentistry. Every patient that walks through the door tells us how stunning the office is and how they see the attention to detail that went into every process of rebuilding the office. It has had a huge impact,” admits Dr. Cherkas.