Ed Enriquez, DDS, MAGD, FACD
“Pennsylvania Dental Partners has brought the wind back to my sail.” That was one statement I didn’t think I was going to say again.
After graduating from the University of Maryland Dental School in 1988, the move to Fairfield, Pennsylvania to start a family seemed like the right thing to do. Quaint, friendly, country setting was perfect location to get our roots established and take over a 9 year old dental practice starting off with 482 patients.
That was 1988, and by 2005 I was sailing. I had close to 4000 patients, a solo-proprietor, fee for service practice, an insurance non-participant, very active in organized dentistry on the state and national levels and was advised by my practice consultant to either add 2 more dental units or purge patients. With hesitation and trepidation, I followed my consultant’s advice against my better judgment (I always thought having too many patients is a good problem), I had the team slowly reduce our patient pool to the count of 2000 heads, in order to take control of the schedule which was getting booked 3-4 months ahead.
How do I rebuild my practice and make it recession proof at the age of 52, when I thought I had everything under control?
Unfortunately, no one foresaw the economic downfall of 2008. That was a turning point, the decision to reduce patient size hurt the practice Patient’s and their families were leaving by the boat loads to insurance participants and I saw the loss of 2/3 of our patient pool, down to 1200. Through the next four years our dental practice’s clinical and financial trends mimicked our numbers from 1998. My practice consultant for 10 years had no answers, they were at a loss, and out the door they went. Sadly, I had to reduce my team to 3 less members by 2009 to keep afloat.
So, the question for that day . . . “How do I rebuild my practice and make it recession proof at the age of 52, when I thought I had everything under control?” . . . should I get another consultant unique to my situation, should I become an insurance provider, should I . . . would I . . . could I . . . ?? My ship was adrift!
With the advent on changes to health care and changes to the dynamics of our dental profession, gone were my sail and I had to resort to my oars and became an insurance participant. I was rebuilding, but not at the pace I desired nor at the same level of productivity.