A decade after graduating from Sydney University with Honours, Dr Harshi Dissanayake made the decision to transition from employed dentist to practice owner. Having spent much of her career working in Sydney’s south-west, the suburb of Kearns, 57 km from the CBD, was chosen as the ideal location. “Ten years out, it was time to establish a practice of my own and provide the utmost care to my patients,” Dr Dissanayake said.
“I wanted a practice that is state-of-the-art with the latest technology, materials and infection control. Since I graduated, I’ve developed a great team of people to work with and have become well-known around Sydney’s south west, so it was a logical choice to establish my first practice in this area.
“As a starting point, we approached a local real estate agent and they came up with a few ideas. The location we chose was the second one we looked at. The premises is a free standing house that was originally a medical practice and more recently a health and well-being centre.
“Other dentists in the area have small practices in shopping centres and I especifically wanted a standalone building with lots of room. It’s hard to really set-up a great practice in a small space. The building is spacious and very open and there is a lot of natural light.”
The home of Kearns Dental is perfectly located on a corner, opposite the Kearns shops. The area has an established, stable population and there are three schools nearby. Apart from that, however, the premises was quite rundown and needed a complete refit to bring it up to the standard Dr Dissanayake envisioned.
“We talked to a couple of specialist dental surgery designers, both by phone and also on site,” Dr Dissanayake said. “We’d heard of Perfect Practice through colleagues and we met with Peter Arnot, the owner’s brother, on site and he looked at the space. It was old, rundown and in poor condition but even so, he could see the potential and shared our vision. In a word, he got it!
“Following the meeting, I said send me a layout and within a few days, the design was pretty much perfect. He thought of things we didn’t think about and we really benefited from his experience in this area.
“He gave us options to leave some walls in place at lower cost and also the price to move things around for the optimal solution. So we ended up doing the latter. It wasn’t cost driven and I appreciated that he knew what we wanted. Our goal is to offer the ultimate in dental treatment and to do that, we wanted the optimal environment to work from.
“I also knew that Perfect Practice would manage the entire process. I was still working full time at other practices and I couldn’t micro-manage the fitout. They have a good reputation and they really delivered for a friend of mine. Peter could visualise how it would work best and ensured it flowed really well, so I was very comfortable to give them the project to complete.”
Dr Dissanayake wanted the practice to have a calming ambiance to put patients at ease. A neutral colour palate was selected with some contrasting colours to give it a warm, homely feel whilst remaining professional. The two treatment rooms feature full size wall murals, one of bamboo, the other cherry blossoms. A third room, currently used as an office, is plumbed ready for when demand dictates.
“We wanted ample storage so we can achieve a minimalistic look with all the clutter hidden away and the benches clean. We wanted a dedicated x-ray room and we wanted a staff area for lunch. Everything essentially has a dedicated area.
“The sterilisation area flows from dirty to clean and different colour lighting clearly defines each zone. We also all did three infection control courses to make sure we’re at the forefront of everything in that area as well, plus we did the Cynergex course for treating medical emergencies.” Dr Dissanayake said the build of the new practice went to plan.
“Perfect Practice dealt with the landlord and any issues that came up along the way,” she said. “They delivered within the timeframe specified and to the letter. “Aaron, the Project Manager and Gavin, the Foreman, were always available by phone and we would chat 2 or 3 times a week. I also stopped in and had a look once a week as well. There was very open communication throughout and they were always available.
“Once it was completed, they then gave us time to go through the whole place and see if everything was as we wanted it to be. Even now, a year after opening, if anything goes wrong, they are here to fix it promptly.” Equipment throughout the practice was largely supplied by Dentsply Sirona. “I chose Sirona dental equipment for the entire practice,” Dr Dissanayake said. “I’ve used it in the past and it has an excellent reputation for quality and reliability.
The Sirona Sinius chairs are Platinum coloured and the delivery system is on a sliding track, which maximises access and convenience. The chairs are very comfortable for patients and are perfect for adults and children. “I also like the quality of the x-ray images we get from the Orthophos XG 3D system which takes OPGs, Cephs and 3D cone beam images. Our rep, Manuel Netto, is a trained radiographer, so he really knows his stuff.” Dr Dissanayake said that she is very happy with her first practice and the equipment choices and there have been no issues since opening. “We put up a ‘Dentist coming’ sign long before we opened and the locals all really support us. A lot of patients have also followed me here when they heard I had set-up my own practice.
“After a year, we’re continuing to grow. We now have four nurses in our team and have been nominated for a local business award. We’ve also expanded to an outside courtyard area for lunch breaks. “I now have a great practice with a great team of people to work with and we can deliver optimal care with ease. It really is a perfect practice.”
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– Australasian Dental Practice | By Joseph Albeury