Behind the Desk and Before the Chair at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry
By Rachael Lapoff
“Look it’s Dory!” “I hear that dozens of times a day,” laughed Jane Sept, office manager at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry (SPD), located in South Salem. Every time a child sees the blue tang in the aquarium the staff experiences the children’s excitement. Families come to see one of the three dentists in the pediatric practice, owner Dr. Sean Cooper, Dr. Amanda Day or Dr. Michael Purcell, but in reality, everyone who enters the office will be cared for by a team of professionals whose focus is to make your child’s experience as comfortable as possible. .
A dental visit can cause anxiety, so Dr. Cooper created a welcoming environment that focuses on his love of sailing. When patients walkthrough the doors they are instantly transported into a nautical-themed space that is so visually appealing they may forget that it is a dental office. Eyes fixate on the murals, the aquarium, and the plethora of children’s toys and games. Finally, under the crossed oars they are greeted by the friendly staff.
Sept oversees the team and keeps the practice running smoothly. “We love working with our young dental patients” she says. “Parents, who may have had difficult dental experiences in the past, sometimes have a higher anxiety level than the children, so we talk with our patients about their lives, their concerns, and what is involved in every dental procedure, before it happens. With amazing technical advancements in dentistry, no child should fear a dental visit.”
“Dental office managers, receptionists, scheduling coordinators, financial coordinators..these are just a few of the many hats dental office administrative staff wear. The person at the front desk has been called the ‘Director of First Impressions.’ A very important role, indeed,” said Jan Douglas, Oregon Dental Executives Association (ODEA) president.
Scheduling coordinators start the process by getting patients checked in. The caring and assuring manner in which our patients are welcomed into the practice at the first and subsequent visits is important. “It takes the whole team to run the practice. We all do everything so the patient can have fun and develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.” said Scheduling Coordinator Patty Crittendon.
Pediatric dental patients, who are accepted up to age 14, usually begin by seeing one of the practice’s seven dental assistants. “I assist our doctors in the office, and in the operating room while they perform dental surgery. As an expanded functions dental assistant, I do cleanings, take x-rays and assist doctors with exams. I love talking with kids and hearing all about their interests and activities,” says Sarah Long, a dental assistant at SPD since 2001. “We use the Tell-Show-Do method with kids to develop a positive relationship with them during their dental visits.”
The Spinnaker crew also bonds over activities outside the office. They participate in community races, scouting and volunteeringboth in and out of the office. Over Halloween they hosted a “candy give back program” with Operation Gratitude to send treats to the troops and during the holidays they paired with the Willamette Humane Society to raise awareness about the charity and WHS pet health initiatives, especially pet dental care.
SPD’s newest dentist, Michael Purcell, DDSadded, “Overall, it can be said that Spinnaker’s crew really cares.” He adds, they are dynamic and caring group who truly want to help the families, patients and their community.
For a boat it takes a captain and a crew to run the ship. At SPD or any dental office for that matter, it takes the combined work of the dental assistants, scheduling coordinators, office manager, and dentists to keep office at smooth sailing.