Dr. Kevin Brewer, of Brewer Dental Center in Billings, is a life-long learner. He strongly believes in exploring ways to constantly improve himself, his staff and the practice. In fact, he often tells his colleagues, “Don’t get too comfortable, we are going to make changes, make things better.”
Dr. Brewer follows several motivational speakers, including the author of “Awaken the Giant Within,” Tony Robbins, whose philosophy resonates with Dr. Brewer. He practices CANI, which stands for Constant and Never-ending Improvement, within the dental practice.
Most recently, that train of thought culminated with two new clinics to further serve Brewer Dental patients. Brewer Dental Orthodontic & Pediatric Center, at 2900 Central Ave., Bldg. 2, opened May 12 and will celebrate with a Grand Opening on July 17 (see next page for details).
“We have an annual meeting where we set goals, and we are always trying to improve by asking ourselves, ‘What can we do better? How can we serve more patients and grow our business?’” said Dr. Brewer. “Short of expanding to other cities, the pediatric and orthodontic clinic is the next logical step.”
Dr. Brewer started practicing dentistry in 1983, growing from five operatories (or dentists’ working areas) to nine in his practice at 2675 Central Avenue in Lamplighter Square. In 2009, Brewer Dental moved a few blocks west to a new, larger building at 2900 Central Ave. This move doubled the practice, with 19 operatories. In 2012, Brewer Dental Center expanded yet again, opening a second location at 710 Main St., to serve the Billings Heights neighborhoods.
“Each building takes about a year to plan, design and build—it’s pretty complex,” said Dr. Brewer. “The planning has to happen well in advance.”
Dr. Brewer also noted that repeating an identical design helps expedite the process.
“Things were easier, and a bit less expensive, by the time we got to the third building,” he said. “They are each 6,400 square feet ‘boxes’ of similar design. But each time we tweak the plan a bit, making improvements.”
He pointed to creating bigger, better storage at the Heights location after realizing the limitations of the storage crawl-space at the Central Avenue location, for example.
With 800 new patients each month between the two locations, Dr. Brewer knew he was serving a good portion of the community, but closer examination revealed that children and teens were not among the majority. Two years after the Heights location was built, the newest location, Brewer Dental Orthodontic & Pediatric Center, opened.
“I knew that we could do a better job of serving children,” he said. “Pediatrics naturally follows into orthodontia; the two are so interrelated. Across the country, combo practices are being built and are successful.”
With its unique and diversified approach to dental care, every member of the family, from children to seniors, can be accommodated at Brewer Dental Center. In addition, their pediatric dentist specializes in keeping up-to-date with the latest education and technology that pertains to children and teens. For example, a pediatric anesthesiologist can usually help the pediatric patient on-site, rather than sending the child to the hospital for sedation, if the situation calls for it.
When it came to selecting a general contractor to build the new Orthodontic & Pediatric Center, Dr. Brewer did not deviate from his previous construction experience. He selected Jones Construction for the job.
“Jones did all three buildings, in fact they even completed my last remodel at the Lamplighter Square location,” noted Dr. Brewer. “Of all the construction guys I’ve worked with, I had the most confidence in Jones. They are not the cheapest, but they match my personality; I would rather pay their fair fee and have it done right—it’s on time and on budget, or less.”
Dr. Brewer also turned to Frank Nienaber, owner and architect with Studio 4 Architects, who also worked on the previous two buildings.
“We designed the buildings around the doctors’ requirements and layout,” said Nienaber. “Although the buildings are essentially the same, and the exteriors have the same flavor, the work flow of both the business and the dental practice was a bit different.”
In a dental practice, plumbing and medical lines are crucial components of the construction process. According to Tyrel Keller of Midland Mechanical, their work was completed by certified, licensed installers and the system was tested extensively to pass a stringent code.
“Incorrect installation can be dangerous,” noted Keller. “The most important aspect is to get the job done correctly and safely.”
Medical gas lines carry oxygen, nitrous oxide (often known as laughing gas), dental air, dental wash water and dental vacuum for waste.
Make it fun
While the new facility is similar to the main Brewer Dental Center, the interior houses two distinct practices—Pediatric and Orthodontics. The practices are on opposite sides of the building, divided by common work areas including the “team area,” a consult room and a shared, walk-through equipment room.
Upon entering the center, each patient is immediately greeted by a receptionist and checked in. They may also use one of two “self-check-in” electronic kiosks. The reception area is geared toward children, complete with a large salt water fish tank, a beverage station and a “game room” that houses four secured iPads loaded with 20 games to keep little hands and minds busy while they wait.
“The kids love them,” said Doug Meissner, Brewer Dental Clinic administrator. “They also make a bee-line for the fish tank as soon as they walk in the door.”
The iSnap kiosk, a “new age” photo booth that links directly to social media, is also a popular feature with the younger patients.
However, most children have a short wait-time, so it is their siblings who have more “play time.” According to Meissner, the average patient wait time is just 1.4 minutes.
“Efficiency is important to us,” said Meissner. “Most people don’t want to wait.”
To enhance the child’s entire experience, the walls of the pediatric bay are bright, bold and fun. Painted by Terri Porta, a wall mural includes an oversized image of the Tooth Fairy’s pet, named “Douglas” who helps children overcome their fear of the dentist or losing a tooth.
Each of the 11 operatories, or chairs, includes its own computer for paperless records and a mobile TV screen that runs 100 children’s movies on a loop to keep the young patients’ minds occupied during their cleaning or procedure.
For those who cannot seem to calm down, the new center includes six larger rooms for privacy.
“Some children may shed a tear or two,” noted Dr. Brewer. “We included a full-glass, sound-proof door so that we can interact with the patient in a more private setting with the parents outside the room with a line-of-sight on their child.”
The orthodontia portion is connected via a “team room” where employees can break, enjoy lunch, store their gear or meet for educational sessions.
With 12 chairs, or operatories, the orthodontia bay can be a busy place. Each chair is separated by a thin, acrylic wall fashioned with tension cable
“The floating walls are an efficient use of space, and the cabling makes them look and feel very high-tech,” noted Dr. Brewer. “I really like how that feature turned out.”
According to Meissner, the bulk of Brewer Dental Center’s orthodontia patients have come from the in-house referral system.
Running a practice that spans the needs of patients of all ages across the community could be seen as daunting. But Dr. Brewer stays focused on a key vision. He operates Brewer Dental Centers by a simple philosophy: Patient care and comfort are priority number one—take care of patients and their needs, and all else falls in place.