Idyllic white sand beaches. Turquoise water. Palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. These quintessential sights and surroundings of Pensacola, Florida, are a calming presence for both locals and visitors alike.
It’s the type of tranquility that Drs. Allison and Neil Simmons hope patients will instantly feel when they walk through the doors of Pensacola Kids Dentistry — whether for a routine cleaning or for their very first dental visit.
As board certified pediatric dentists, this husband-and-wife duo opened Pensacola Kids Dentistry in 2014, right out of residency, with the hopes of teaching children and adolescents the importance of establishing healthy oral health habits to last a lifetime.
“I truly think this specialty came about because so many people have had bad experiences that led to fear their entire life. Even now, we have parents that want to stay in the waiting room just because when they step in, they have such an overwhelming fear,” explains Dr. Allison Simmons. “So, we take our practice very seriously. It is our responsibility to help patients have that great first visit. And not only that, if we have to perform treatment, we want to continue that great experience for them.”
Situated in a prime location near neighboring highways, Pensacola Kids Dentistry’s original location ticked an important box the doctors knew would be an important one for patients: convenient accessibility for those venturing from Pensacola and the surrounding cities of Escambia, Gulf Breeze, Perdido and Pace, Florida. But, as the practice continued to grow, it became clear that the location was proving to be a challenge: not only for patients trying to locate their practice within the large medical complex, but also for staff members trying to serve these patients in a facility too small and too limited for their needs.
The Opportunity to Expand
Not surprisingly, when the opportunity presented itself to purchase and renovate a standalone office across the street from their former location, the doctors knew they couldn’t pass it up — but not before consulting with the Henry Schein Integrated Design Studio (IDS) first.
With the help of John Adams, equipment sales specialist with Henry Schein, along with Renee Susami, senior designer with IDS, the doctors knew they would be in good hands. “Throughout the entire process, John and Renee were always both 10 steps ahead of us and would ask questions that we would never have thought of, which was so important to us and made the entire process so streamlined,” says Dr. Simmons.
After her initial inquiry to Mr. Adams about the doctors’ desire to grow and create what they now call their “dream office,” he quickly connected them to IDS and a host of equipment vendors and suppliers who could make their vision a reality — offering a seamless blend of both technology and interior design enhancements.
“The Simmons’ had two operatories at their old practice. And with the two of them working together, they were going to need to increase their production capacity,” says Mr. Adams. “The new building had the square footage that was needed to meet their goals, but it was not laid out in the proper way, so we started redesigning everything that could be moved and created a workflow for them that met the needs of the practice.”
Redesigned with Space, Comfort and Capacity in Mind
The redesigned office, which houses a large waiting room, one infant oral health room, one sterilization area, three treatment rooms with one surgical suite, two imaging areas and five hygiene bays, now has both the space and the capacity to treat a range of patients, from infants through adolescents, in a calm, soothing environment. This was an important requirement for the doctors, who understood that creating a positive first impression was essential — especially for children who are often very impressionable at a young age.
“We wanted this to be an experience. You really only get that one first impression,” explains Dr. Simmons. “We wanted patients to pull into our driveway and say, ‘Oh, when I was here, it was fun. Everything went great.’ We want them to be excited for their dental visit. And if we can do that, then we did our job.”
Ms. Susami and the IDS team worked with the doctors to create a cool, coastal feel that channeled the surrounding area, with hints of palm trees, sea glass and starfish lining various areas of the dental practice.
“We wanted the interior design to be calm and soothing,” says Dr. Simmons. “We see a lot of special needs kids, so we wanted to keep the environment very low-stimulus, from the lighting to the artwork. Light grays, light blues; really, colors that kids on the spectrum would feel comfortable with, but that were also just calming colors in general. When patients and staff walk in, we really want them to feel like they are coming home — that as soon as they walk in, they feel like ‘this is where I’m OK."
Part of the renovation also included various equipment and amenity enhancements, including A-dec® dental chairs, cabinetry and a sterilization room, plus an X-ray area that’s twice the size of their old facility, all of which have helped improve both patient experience and workflow. “All of the changes have helped us be able to see more patients, with less downtime and less waiting for the doctors, which for kids is huge,” says Dr. Simmons. “The flow is much easier now. And, with extra chairs, it’s a lot easier to take in and treat emergency patients.”
Inspiring the Next Generation of Smiles
The end result? A dental practice that has merged convenience with tranquility; modern amenities with a quaint, at-home feel — the exact vision the doctors were striving for when they first decided to partner with Henry Schein. “The whole experience from start to finish was fantastic and we would hands-down do it again,” says Dr. Simmons. “It was incredible to have people who we could really delegate our trust to. That was something we really needed and that we couldn’t afford to do by ourselves if we were going to do it right.”
And for long-standing patients who followed the doctors from their old location to their new facility across the street, their reactions have only solidified the doctors’ decision.
“Over the years, our patients have truly become our family. We have gotten so close and have seen their kids grow up,” says Dr. Simmons. “We have received a ton of positive reactions and have even had some of the parents say, ‘I’m so proud of you guys.’ And you know what, that means so much.”