St. Marys Journal Argus
In a perfect world, the planned new Water Street South office building of St. Marys dental surgeon Dr. Michael Nixon would have been completed by now, with Nixon and his staff already comfortably serving patients at the property near the St. Marys Vet Clinic.
But the world isn’t perfect.
“Construction will begin some time in April and will be completed some time in the fall,” reported the dentist who runs the 66 Church Street South (Knox Apartments) practice originated by Dr. Jim Loucks. “It can’t come fast enough. We have run out of room in our little office.”
Since Nixon took over the practice, staff has been following through on an emphasis on expanding the patient list. So pressure has already been building to get the move underway. But the pressure became greater last month when it was revealed that 174 Queen Street-based Dr. John Pellow was being forced by health issues to give up his long-established dental practice.
Negotiations between the two offices led to an offer by Dr. Nixon to take on Dr. Pellow’s patients.
“I am offering Dr. Pellow's patients complimentary ‘New Patient’ exams and X-rays,” Nixon explained. “It involves updating information, a complete examination of the teeth, gums and oral cancer screening, and a full series of X-rays. The value is approximately $250.”
The complimentary offer was originated by Dr. Nixon’s office as a result of the closure of Dr. Pellows’ practice. But Nixon clarifies that, for a limited time at least, the offer is open — “as a professional courtesy,” he says — to anyone who makes the decision to become a new patient with his practice.
“They need to call to book their appointment prior to April 30,” he explained. “They can schedule the appointment for any time after April 30, but they have to call before that date. The phone number is 519-284-2660.”
Nixon says the purpose of making the offer to new patients — either from the Pellows practice or otherwise — is to partly to encourage patients to come to his office to meet him and his staff, and see how they do things. Equally as important, however, it also provides his office with an opportunity to meet the patient and receive from them the information he needs to treat their oral health needs.
“It is a win-win,” he said of the complimentary offer.
With the planned Water Street building not yet ready, however, the additional patients will have to be accommodated — at least in the short term — in the current office on the lower level of the Knox Apartments. To make that happen, Dr. Nixon has expanded the practice’s hours of operation to include Fridays.
“Up until now I have reserved Fridays for administrative responsibilities,” he explained. “Now, I will be seeing patients on Fridays as well.” Hours of operation, at this point, are Mondays from noon until 8 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The transition to Friday opening necessitated an expansion in staffing. And long-time patients of the practice might be happy with how that challenge was met: Helen Black, who has been ably handling appointments, billing, and insurance inquiries for many years, was coaxed out of retirement to return on a part-time basis — primarily on Fridays.
Additional new staff has also been hired — both to accommodate the new patients, as well as in preparation for the move to larger quarters hopefully later in 2014.
Stacey Wildgust is the new Treatment Plan Coordinator. “She is trained as a level 2 assistant and has over 13 years experience,” Dr. Nixon explained. “Her role will be to primarily deal with the insurance. She is also available to answer any other questions regarding treatment options.”
And Carley Schiepkoff has been hired as both a level 2 assistant and a hygienist. “Her primary role will be as an assistant but she will be covering some hygiene appointments as well,” Nixon said.
“We are all well-trained and are interested in serving the needs of our patients,” he said of his office’s personnel. “My personal philosophy will echo what many other dentists do and say: If there is an oral health need, we diagnose it, explain what the problem is in terms the patient can understand, present and explain all the different treatment options to correct the problem, answer any questions the patient may have, and allow the patient to make an informed decision about their individual needs.
“We assist them in navigating the murky waters of their insurance plans and follow up as necessary,” he added. “Like other dentists, patient education is key. My hope is that my patients leave the experience feeling informed and armed with the insight they need to make knowledge-based decisions.”