“whole hog” design & build

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“whole hog” design & build

Asked what he thought was the biggest challenge facing the fit-out firm working on his practice design and build, Dr Nabil Matti’s response was both quick and incisive: “Me!”

The self-confessed pedantic dentist is clearly unapologetic for setting the bar high, readily acknowledging that he fits the textbook profile of a demanding client. It took 11 solid months of meeting just about every reputable builder in Australia before Dr Matti eventually decided on Perfect Practice. He discovered traits in the fit-out team that he thought might have been elusive in the building business: “Integrity, honesty and professionalism”.

“(Perfect Practice) was already an established name in the healthcare fit out industry but as a cautious person embarking on his first renovation project, I still had my reservations before the meeting.

“However I must say that the team that I met, led by Projects Director Aaron Jenkins, had instilled such confidence through their detailed presentation and thoughtful answers to my followup questions that, somehow, managed to erase all the doubts.”

That fateful initial meeting in 2013 not only paved the way for Perfect Practice to renovate Smiles Unlimited in Fairfield, Dr Matti reunited with the fit-out a company this year to build another surgery in Gregory Hills, albeit with a new team.

For someone who hasn’t stopped receiving compliments on a renovation completed six years ago, Dr Matti is elated that the new team – which included project manager Craig Cullen and Design Director Riyaz Bhada – managed to follow up a tough act with yet another stellar performance.

“I wanted to build a practice where patients walk in and do not feel like they are walking into a dental clinic but a five-star hotel. Most patients are at least a little anxious about going to see the dentist, so we wanted to provide a soothing environment that removes any feelings of anxiety or claustrophobia.”

“Perfect Practice totally realised that vision with a free-flowing layout, tasteful aesthetics and quality finishes.”

To create a luxurious hotel-like experience, the fastidious dentist insisted on using the best quality materials and furnishings, right down to the specific type of large format tiles he wanted to fill the feature wall behind the reception counter – which he later learned are the exact same tiles used in the premium Qantas lounge at the airport.

Incidentally, the same creature comforts you would expect from a premium lounge are all replicated in the waiting area – Dr Matti prefers to call it the patient lounge, and for good reason. Soft plush chairs, giant high-def screen, barista quality coffee machine, filtered water, phone charging stations … all add to the overall impression that this is not your average clinic, but one that elevates the patient experience in tangible ways.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the patient lounge is the generous space it occupies. Considering the exorbitant rent – not to mention the waiting area is perhaps the least known “income-generating” room – the dentist’s adamance in wanting to leave more breathing space for claustrophobic and nervous patients is palpable.

Dr Matti’s zeal for patient comfort can be further gleaned from his insistence on incorporating floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap along the exterior-facing side of the rooms. When in-chair patients are facing an open vista in a light-filled room, he reasons, they feel less anxious. Simple as it sounds, orientating all the equipment, furniture and fixtures in the window’s direction involve a complex undertaking with multiple logistical workarounds. Perfect Practice’s penchant for overcoming obstacles, Dr Matti highlights, made the process appear much less arduous.

“The way I judge a builder is not whether there are hiccups that occur along the way – there are bound to be hiccups for a major building project – but in how they resolve an issue. I hold Perfect Practice in high regard for the way they remain calm in every situation, always focused on the solution, instead of pointing fingers or casting blame.”

Although the 240-sqm floor-space is considered expansive for a 5-chair clinic, part of the space is sectioned off to house a separate entity, SOMA Dental Specialist Suites, which share common facilities with Smiles Unlimited including the lab, steri and plant room.

Along with Smile Unlimited, the Specialist Suites make up the dentistry component of the healthcare services located at the SOMA Wellness health hub, the newest health precinct in the Macarthur region. They join other healthcare establishments in providing a broad range of services including GP, pharmacy, radiology, pathology, physiotherapy, podiatry and psychology. Notably, the hub is poised to support Camden Medical Campus, NSW’s soon-to-open six-storey private hospital touted as the largest in the state.

Perfect Practice’s healthcare-specific fit-out experience helped in dealing directly with the building’s management, and perhaps more significantly, creating a seamless work environment in which Smile Unlimited and the SOMA Dental Specialist Suites could co-exist. As owner and landlord of the two overlapping spaces, Dr Matti wanted to ensure that occupants of both entities enjoy convenient access to the shared facilities without interrupting each other’s workflow. This required the renovation team to have intimate knowledge of different equipment placements and room layouts for various dental functions.

For example, when the original layout was changed to incorporate a separate entrance to the specialist suites, sites previously designated for the storage facility and Dr Matti’s office had to be sacrificed. By carving up excess space in the lab to double as a storage hub, the builders were able to effect the changes with minimal distress to all parties concerned, much to Dr Matti’s relief: “That took ingenious re-designing and positive work ethics!”

Dr Matti’s positive appraisal of the fit-out team is matched in enthusiasm by the overwhelming praise of the renovation from patients and visitors. One of the impressed VIP visitors is world-renowned orthodontist, Dr Derek Mahony, who currently lists the Gregory Hills site as one of five office locations for his private practice, Full Face Orthodontics

“For our practice to be associated with an eminent orthodontist like Dr Mahony speaks volumes of the trust he places on the work we do here at Smiles Unlimited,” Dr Matti beams. “Of course, much praise is due to the wonderful physical environment that Perfect Practice has built.”

In his assertion that “no other fit-out firm could have done a better job than what Perfect Practice has delivered,” Dr Matti once again lets on his exacting nature, before adding retrospectively:

“That’s the way I approach many things in life: Either go the whole hog to get the best possible results or forget about it! That’s why I picked the best healthcare design and building company for the task!”


Written by Danny Chan from the Australasian Dentist magazine

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