Imagine an environment with relaxing colors, plants, original artwork and the peaceful sound of trickling water, where one can lounge in the most comfortable recliner on the planet. Where is this sanctuary? An island resort? A five star hotel? A spa?…Would you believe an endodontics office where people in serious pain come to have root canals?
A few years ago, when innovative endodontist Rudolph Lantelme decided to meld two practices into one, he located a space in an office park in Methuen, MA in the Merrimac Valley. As in the past, Rudi created what he thought was a good floor plan, took it to the local dental supply office and construction started. After the first phase of construction had begun, Dr. Lantelme felt uneasy about the layout of the space, but he could not identify the problem. He discussed it with his contractor, Gil Mattheson from Doyle & Mattheson Construction Co, who recommended he call on award winning interior designer and Feng Shui practitioner, yes, you guessed it, Lidia Scher! Scher was then not only my Feng Shui mentor, but she specialized in dental and medical office design. She continues to focus her practice on this market.
As I studied the plan, I noticed that a couple of rooms and a bathroom were relocated, the reception room was expanded and recreated, and some of the ceilings were redesigned to offer different heights, interest and spatial distractions. Scher interviewed the doctors and their staff and together they created an upbeat, contemporary environment.
That visit to this progressive practice and a chat with Dr. Lantelme sold this writer on the ideal place for a root canal. “Patients who come here are in a lot of pain. Once inside the office, they feel immediately relaxed. Once in the chair in the treatment room, patients often fall asleep without much sedation.”
What makes the environment at Endodontic Specialists so patient friendly? Arranged and designed according to Feng Shui principles, the reception area is an inviting feast for the senses. The vibrant colors and variety of textures uplift the spirit, while the rounded shapes of the table, chairs and counters, and even the wall corners, soothe the soul. In Feng Shui, curves are preferable to straight lines, because they soften and harmonize the flow of ch’ i energy.
In Chinese thinking there are five energies represented by the elements: earth, water, metal, wood and fire. When all are present in a room, it creates a serene and balanced feeling. Scher brought all five elements into the reception area with a large water fountain to suggest the calmness and refreshment of water. The light beech furniture and plants tucked into the corners represent the resilient, creative qualities of wood energy. The reception desk granite counter top provides the order and endurance of metal energy. Artist Gillian Frazier’s painting with red flame-like shapes on the wall above the desk creates the brilliance and drama of fire. Yellow and copper wall colors promote the healing, nurturing qualities of earth energy. In fact, Scher brought in the earth element- terracotta tiles, to the treatment rooms to ground and support the doctors and staff and to sooth the patients. She also added purple upholstery, and lavender and green walls. The fire energy of purple and lavender encourages communication and clarity of thought, enthusiasm and joy. Greens continue to bring the wood element to imbue optimism in patients who are pained and afraid, and encourages flexibility and the ability to create innovative and practical treatment plans. The multi-colored speckled carpet in the reception and the hallways generates a dance of color beneath one’s feet. Finally, magnificent color photographs from the doctor’s visit to Cuba, grace the walls of the operatories and hallways, and add an additional human and personal element to the practice. These were carefully placed to inspire and reinforce the different energetic areas.
A Highly Effective Environment
Even after merging two distinct offices, the staff, according to Dr. Lantelme, seemed happier and communicated better than in the former environments. Certainly they felt more comfortable in the new space. “I love working here,” exclaimed the practice manager, “We appreciated that Lidia interviewed each one of us.” In addition to selecting colors that support each staff member in their working environment, Scher placed them in the “command position,” which gives each person a view of the main door or the door to their office.
As patients step from the waiting room into the inner hallway leading to the treatment rooms, they encounter a glass water fountain sculpture with etched fishes. A wall behind the fountain imitates and expands the etched design by artist Antoinette Virgilio. Antoinette also created another painted copper wall seen upon walking toward the operatories, which invokes a feeling of wonder and delight. This wall also creates a distraction from what in Feng Shui terms is called a “split view”, when upon walking into a space, a door opening divides the vertical surface and forces the eye to see two scenes simultaneously. To solve the problem of the lack of natural light in two of the operatories, Scher directed Ms Virgilio to paint murals over the entire wall viewed by the patient. One is a lush, bucolic scene of the countryside and the other a yellow sunset over water. ” In addition to enhancing the mood, these scenes support the energies of the dentists who work there, said Scher.
Lidia worked closely not only with Patterson Dental Supply to furnish the operatories, she also collaborated with the doctors and technical experts in installing the most updated technological advances in dentistry. These advances enable patients to have a one-visit root canal treatment, an efficient and cost effective situation. “Patients sometimes faint when having a root canal,” stated Lantelme. “I experienced this in my former offices, but there has been no fainting in the six months we have been in this office.” Endodontics Specialists serves as a model for dental and medical offices of the future. “When patients are relaxed, we can be most effective.”….
Mary Roberts is a Feng Shui consultant and owner of Feng Shui Options, based in Carlisle, MA. As the founder of Dorm Chi, a consultancy geared to enhance the dormitory experience, Mary created the Mystical Pizza E-Kit to make college dorm spaces really work. www.fengshuioptions.com