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All the comforts of home

Mt. Pleasant Dental Associates make patients feel at home with recent remodel
Sep 21, 2017
Photo by: Karyn Spory Mt. Pleasant Dental Associates has a fresh, new look, but it’s the same great care. Doctors Jeff Sitar and Karla Maher recently remodeled their dental offices. The doctors wanted to make sure patients felt at home, but they also wanted the space to look new and fresh.

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


A trip to the dentist is likely not the highlight of a person’s day. With that in mind, Dr. Jeff Sitar and Dr. Karla Maher of Mt. Pleasant Dental Associates wanted to make sure patients were as comfortable and at home as possible.

“The comments we’ve always had when people walk in our front door is they don’t feel like they’re in a dental office, they feel comfortable,” said Sitar.

Keeping that cozyness and charm of the property was a must for Maher.

The remodeling process began almost two years ago. “Karla started in 2013, and after she was here a couple of years we just started to run out of “people space”, to be honest,” said Sitar.

Another dentist in the building meant another dental assistant and hygienist. As business began to pick up, it meant hiring more people, and going from an office of six to 10.

Before deciding on renovating their current space, located at 304 North Jefferson St. in Mt. Pleasant, the dentists began looking for a new property. “The more we looked around the more we realized we still wanted to be in the downtown area,” said Sitar. Their current location had everything they were looking for, it just needed an update. “Once we made that decision, then we started figuring out what we could do with this building.”

The building was originally purchased by Sitar’s former partner, Dr. Richard Sankey in 1986. “Then it was just an old house,” recalls Sitar.

The first renovation, which turned the former home into a dental office was completed in 1988. “It was quite an ordeal,” said Sitar. That wasn’t the case this time around.

On July 13, 2016, J.C. Wiley and Sons broke ground and began the expansion and remodel. The renovation was completed by the end of January 2017. Sitar said there was a two-week delay, but that was due to a backorder on dental equipment. “Wiley’s had laid out a schedule for us. If we wouldn’t have had that delay, Wiley’s would have hit it to the day.”

During the remodeling process, the dental offices stayed open, which made for some interesting work days. “Our staff going through this whole thing was amazing,” said Sitar. “There were some days that were loud and noisey and to work in that was not easy some days,” Sitar said.

Maher quickly added their patients were also beyond understanding. “You already have high anxiety and then you come in (to the dentist office) and there’s hammers and drills.”

“The driving factor of this whole thing was patients,” added Sitar. “We had to make sure they were still comforatable in our new environment.”

Getting into that new environment took six months and meant a lot of decisions for Sitar and Maher.

When it came to designing the rooms, the dental associates’ “must haves” were fairly simple - they needed their own exam rooms. “Karla is left-handed and I’m right handed. We can share rooms, but it becomes a little difficult, expecially for the assistants because all of their stuff is on one side.”

The dental duo also wanted a bigger sterilization room and an area for staff. “Once Karla got here we decided to better utilize the office and stagger our lunches so we’re open from when we first see patients at 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” said Sitar. “Because of that, there are staff members that don’t want to leave so there’s an area they can come back and relax.”

The staff area features a small kitchenette where they can warm up their meals, a long, wooden table with plush chairs that can double as a conference room or just a nice, quiet area they can relax.

While Wiley’s handeled the construction, Sitar, Maher and their spouses began working on the interior design of the building. “Interior designers say you should work from the floor up. Well, we didn’t do that,” said Sitar. Instead he and Maher began with the dental cabintry and worked their way down. “We put a lot of miles on vehicles, we spent a lot of hours together going to other dental offices, meeting with different people,” said Sitar.

The next thing they decided were the color aesthetics. The building had been painted in brown tones for as long as Sitar could remember, so he and Maher decided to switch it up and incorporate grey tones into their design.

Eventually, an interior designer, Gwen Parker of Coralville, was hired to help bring the entire office together. “Karla and my wife Missy met an interior designer that they liked and told me that’s who we were going to hire and I said ‘that’s fantastic,’” Sitar said with a chuckle.

Although the building retains its traditional, charming feel, the color and furniture have a more contemporary twist. “I’ve been in Mt. Pleasant for 22 years now. I wanted something that was completely different,” said Sitar. “We wanted it updated, for sure, but to still keep some of the charm of the old building.”

Part of the charm of the old building included its large windows, woodwork and crown molding, as well as the artwork, which is all done by local artists. “Probably 10 years ago my wife and I decided we needed (artwork) and we have some fabulous local artists,” said Sitar, who added Parker was great about incorporating the work into the design.”

The exterior color was a hot topic between the two dentists. “Karla and I spent lots of miles in the car looking at different colors,” said Sitar. “I wanted it inviting and fresh.” In the end, the two settled on Ricatta blue.

Last month, the dental practice showed off their updated digs to the general public by hosting the Chamber’s Alive After Five. If the two had any reservations if they made the right decision during the remodel, the amount of “ooohs” and “awwws” reassured their decisions.

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