That was a building, …this is my practice

by Heather Heagney

Dr. Patrick Heagney never thought he would be opening a new dental office at the age of 57. He never thought his ‘arts-inclined’ daughters would be so heavily involved in his dental practice. He never thought he would be modernizing his office and becoming an expert in fire insurance. An early morning call in the summer of 2004 changed all that.

The fire started next door to Dr. Heagney’s Daniel Street office in the town of Arnprior (40 minutes west of Ottawa) and quickly spread. Thanks to firefighters, community volunteers and close family and friends, all of his patients’ files and other important items were saved, but the water damage was too much to save the office.

As Dr. Heagney’s youngest daughter I was there in those early morning hours. Amid the smoke and flames, my Dad was able to put things in perspective right away. When asked, “What are you going to do? This was your practice!” Dr. Heagney replied, “That was a building” and holding up his hands he said, “This is my practice.”

This perspective was valuable, but he actually did need somewhere to treat his patients. This meant long months of working evenings, something Pat thought he had left behind in his late 20s when he began working in the town of Arnprior as a new dentist. With the help of colleagues Dr. Vaughan Glover, Dr. Tony Veale and Dr. Christina Veale and their staff, Pat was able to keep daily operations in his practice alive.

Dr. Heagney thanks his family and his staff for their hard work during this transition period. At the time his wife Francie (my Mom) and I went to work keeping the administrative side of the office up to date and helping to sort out the retrieved files from the fire. His eldest daughter Andrea also made a trip up from Waterloo to pitch in — and she has lent her Marketing and IT experience to this dental practice makeover.

The family efforts really took form when Dr. Heagney chose a location for his new office, and asked middle daughter Wendy to work on the interior design. Situated in the old Kenwood Blanket Factory (now The Kenwood Corporate Centre), the office provided a new design opportunity for Wendy. With an HBFA in Art & Art History, an MFA and an Interior Design Diploma, she used her knowledge and skills to help create an updated office space for her Dad.

The central location of the office is ideal, with excellent parking and accessibility for all patients. The historic building also provides a bit of nostalgia. Dr. Heagney says, “Many older patients enjoy the large photo taken in 1933 of the workers at the old Kenwood factory that is located in the lobby leading to the office. They find relatives and old family friends in the photo and tell stories.” He also likes the new layout as it offers more efficient service, has wide hallways for staff and patients to pass, and has an updated sterilization area.

The designer had these ideas among others in mind when she created the concept for the new office. Wendy explains, “A calm and restful atmosphere was achieved through the use of restful and earthy colours (mushroom tones with blue/green accent colour) and natural materials (wood furniture and blinds, woven rattan chairs and faux leather upholstery).” A more contemporary element was added to the office through the use of accent colour walls, pewter accents and nature-inspired photography courtesy of family member Rob Pethes.

With contractor Troy Murdock of Nova Tech and dental supplies rep Peter Tario of Henry Schein Ash Arcona on board, the renovation began and was a success from start to finish. After Troy and his team renovated the space, it was ready for Peter to implement the new dental equipment featuring current Belmont X-Ray machines and 2005 Pelton & Crane dental equipment stations.

Wendy chose the counter tops, cabinetry, paint colours, window treatments and accessories, and with these choices the new office began to take shape. She used her space planning skills to help create an efficient, calming atmosphere for staff and patients. She also helped develop the graphics and design for the new business cards, stationery and invoices.

The new design improves Dr. Heagney’s 30-year-old practice: “I like the warm, welcoming atmosphere and the technically-efficient design offering a smooth flow for daily operations.” Other aspects he appreciates are the privacy of the operatories and the more open concept feel of the office.

The renovation of this new office brought family, colleagues and a community closer together in the efforts to rebuild after a fire. For Dr. Heagney, this experience was challenging, exciting and surprising — especially at this point in his career — but he enjoyed the process of the new plans and seeing his family work together. Pat’s wife Francie has been lending her efforts to the dental practice for years, but this fire really brought the whole family together to help rebuild the office.

Wendy also enjoyed contributing to this family project, and it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity to help design a new dental office for my Dad.”