March Dental Surgery turns derelict building into hotel-style practice
- Credit: Ryan Jarvis
When you walk into the new premises of March Dental Surgery (now located in the heart of the town on Broad Street), it feels like you’ve arrived at a high-end boutique hotel rather than your standard dental practice.
"The building was so derelict before, which meant that we had to replace the roof, reinforce the floor and ceiling and gut the building entirely," said practice principal and dentist Dr Dipali Patel.
"Coordinating the move was challenging because, as an NHS service provider, we couldn't shut down while we relocated.
"We had to continue to provide an ongoing service, which meant that everyone worked harder to get it done - including on Saturdays and Sundays - but every team member wanted to help and be part of it."
Having relocated four months ago and been open ever since, the team pulled together to create an atmosphere that contrasts the clinical and sterile feel that is often associated with dental practices; the addition of hidden air fresheners helps to achieve this, too, as does the fact that patient toilets feel equally luxurious.
Quirky ‘smiles this way’ signs and funky wildlife artwork lead to plush, comfy and colourful chairs - all with the aim of adding a little fun and enjoyment to the traditional dental experience.
Put simply, the space is bright, light and airy - and with a neutral colour palette and fresh decor, it’s like going to the dentist without going to the dentist.
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“We thought ‘let’s go different - something that’s not been done before’,” says practice manager Donna Winters.
When it came to picking a theme for the interior, the team took inspiration from the look and feel of their Cambridge site - but with a twist, and they are now thinking of renovating their Littleport practice.
The overarching idea, though, was to link it in with the natural heritage of the Fenlands and to emulate that within the practice “to feel more connected and linked to the community.
Other standout practical features include the ability to display a patient’s records on large TVs in the treatment rooms, a digital X-ray room to take photos of the mouth, an overflow seating area and a larger behind the scenes staff area to ensure cleanliness and hygiene.
Moving to a much bigger space has also afforded the team the opportunity to expand, therefore opening up recruitment for the area.
The practice now has a staff of 30, including 10 dentists and 4 hygienists which is at least a third bigger than what it was previously.
It’s also enabled wider staff progression: “we’re now able to offer our team further promotions in their careers, allowing them to take on bigger roles, which isn’t something we could do before,” she added.
Because of the comparatively small size of their former site on Darthill Road, the practice was having to turn away patients - as they didn’t have the room to accommodate as many as they wanted to.
“Dental practices are so thin on the ground, so being able to see more patients and offer services is important to us,” she said.
“Our books were brimming; we turned people away every day. So it’s nice to be able to offer services to more people, when they usually have to go to Cambridge and London.”
The aim of drawing more people into the town centre also influenced the relocation, she said.
“March is lovely town with a great community so we want to do anything we can do to support it.
“We believe the more footfall the high street gets, the better it is for everybody. Because, while patients are here, they’ll do a bit of shopping or go for a coffee.”
Throughout every stage of the transformation, the team ensured that they used local contractors, too: Batchelor Carpenters Ltd as main contractor and carpenters, architect Matthew Hall at Morton & Hall, Simon Rutterford for groundworks and bricklaying, roofer John Wood, painter and decorator Steve Hudson, T & J Plastering, Spendelow Plumbing, Godden’s Carpets, M V Young Scaffolding, Saxon Electrical & Security, electrician Chris Moule, Scott Middlemass for windows, Intelli-cool for aircon/heating and AS It Solutions.
Donna Winters, practice manager, said: "It was the vision and determination of Dr Amiras Chokshi, principal and owner of March Dental, to put March on the map through dentistry that has led to their big move.
"He is devoted to the town and wants to help rejuvenate not just the high street, but the smiles of its people."
Staff at the practice were equally excited by the move and now feel even more satisfied in their jobs: “I am very proud to be working in our new bright and modern practice," said one member of staff.
"It is much more fit for purpose and has given many of us exciting opportunities to progress in our roles and to offer our patients better service and care.”
Another said: “It’s such a great environment to work in, with modern decor and up to date equipment.
“The practice is very well organised and we are like one big happy family, always willing to help each other and work as a team.”
Many patients who have already visited the new site have given glowing reviews, with one saying they “love the new location and new building", adding that they were "very impressed by my experience with my dentist - she is attentive, caring and very patient-focused."
Another said: "Well, what can I say? March Dental Practise is excellent.
"Always very pleasant and reassuring and provides a good level of service.
"The receptionist staff are very helpful and provide a good first impression, too”.
March Dental Surgery is now located at 24 Broad Street, PE15 8TG.