Cultivating a staff concerned with the needs of patients is one of the chief reasons for success of Great Oaks Dental, according to practice founder Paul Giddings.
That is Giddings analysis 30 years into serving dental patients in Pickens County. The practice celebrates three decades in the county this year. Formative years have not all been smooth, but the practice now employs a dozen staff and two other dentists other than Giddings.
Leading up to that ideal of serving patient needs is creating an atmosphere of joy, said Giddings. Joy is one of the guiding principals mentioned on the Great Oaks web site.
It seemed to show up during an interview with Giddings set to recognize the 30-year anniversary. Laughter and shouts drifted down the hall from the daily staff meeting to Giddings office. “We get together every morning and have celebrations and concerns,” said Giddings.
Acknowledging that the joys and concerns of a staffers life can affect the way the perform at work, Giddings said the practice supports expression. “We spend a half an hour with that, and then they know it is time to focus on the needs of the patients,” he said. “It gives me an opportunity to hand out praise,” Giddings said, preferring a positive approach to management rather than reprimands.
There are other expressions of teamwork.
The economic downturn of 2008 -2009 hit the practice with a 15 to 20 percent decline in business, Giddings said. “We lost some people. The others cut back on time to match the workload, keeping people.”
There have been other lean times, but Giddings has found success and appreciation in the people of Pickens. Giddings and his wife, Robin met during undergraduate school. She was studying at Converse College and he at Wofford. They married while he was in dental school and scoped out either N.E. Georgia or upstate South Carolina as places to settle.
They found a practice in Anderson to work with but within a few months the owner decided that the combination was not working, Giddings said.
He then found Dr. Brown in Liberty and for about five years operated a practice next door, taking Dr. Brown’s referrals.
They had settled for a time in the area and found Pickens Presbyterian Church.
As time went on they considered another major move. “We were driving along near where we are now (at the Great Oaks office on SC 8 between Easley ad Pickens) ,and I said (to Robin) ‘We can’t leave our church.’ We were not going to find another church like that anywhere. So really Pickens Presbyterian is the reason we are here.”
Within a year Giddings practice took a major jump when he got a call from Dr. Chuck Garabadian about taking over his practice in downtown Pickens. He took over that practice. Five and a half years ago, he moved the practice to its current location.
Other changes have come along in the practice and dentistry. Advancements have led him to prefer implants to caps because of the quality of the finished product. The practice uses a mission statement that it offers “Comprehensive dentistry for health and beauty. “That is what is out there on the sign,” said Giddings. Dental practices change as new products and techniques become available. So Giddings personally continues to study the art ad science of dentistry. The staff holds weekly training sessions in which Giddings brings in a specialist to talk on a particular issue. “I do a lot of them and i have staff people that I’ll give a subject to and they present on it.”
Serving patients is a process of understand their needs and providing what can be provided them. Basically dentistry is about overall physical health. Dental health and overall health are linked. “There are studies to show that,” he said.
The greatest need for patients is to get patients to overcome the fear and intimidation of coming to the dentist. That comes before messages about brushing and flossing daily, he said.
“It takes 5, 6, 7 times to get them to respond, and know that we are not going to judge them about anything,” Giddings said. “The important thing is to get them to come in.”