New Dental Building for Vicksburg on W. Prairie Street

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Left to right: Jody Cole, Lori Barnes, Dr. Aaron Ford, Mary Ann Koenigsknect, Heidi Thompson, Brenda Schimp, Kris Swope, Linda Mason, and Kris McGlothlen. Employees missing from the photo: Jen Notziger, Jaime Wiard, Dana Kurtz, Diane Bugajski .

By Sue Moore

His patients and his patience are the keys to why Dr. Aaron Ford’s dentistry practice in Vicksburg has doubled in the last seven years, said office manager Kris Zonyk McGlothlen. “He is so accommodating to patients. Takes his time with everybody.”

“My assistants do a really good job,” Dr. Ford acknowledges. “They help patients feel comfortable. My challenge is to have them say when they leave, ‘Well, that wasn’t so bad.’”

To accommodate this patient growth, Dr. Ford started to think about remodeling his office at 602 W. Prairie Street in Vicksburg. What followed was inspired by knowing that Dr. Bob Dornbos, the other Vicksburg dentist, was looking to retire. “I thought, why not combine the two practices and make one nice practice for this area? I made him an offer to buy him out and in the process we will have a really cool new building that even someday might serve to attract more professionals to the community.”

For the next six months, both dentists’ patients are being seen at Dr. Dornbos’ office on 102 S. Main Street in Vicksburg while the new building is under construction. It will have seven rooms, instead of the previous four, expanding from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet. Four operative and three hygiene rooms are planned. Walt Hansen, general contractor in charge of the project, has constructed over 50 dental offices. Hanson knows what works for dentists and what doesn’t with the flow of patients. The exterior will have fieldstone on the base and vinyl shakes for siding. It is expected to be completed in January.

Dr. Ford came to Vicksburg as an assistant to Dr. Mike Carl who had purchased Dr. Jim McClelland’s practice 10 years ago. Dr. Carl also had a practice in Mendon and needed to give that his full-time attention. He offered the Vicksburg opportunity to Ford, a Texas Corners resident. His wife, Maureen, is an emergency room physician at Bronson Hospital employed by Southwest Michigan Emergency Services. They have three children, ages 11, 8 and 5. She serves on the Mattawan school board.

He grew up in Sturgis, graduating in 1995. Ford is a Western Michigan University graduate who participated in Army ROTC for four years. He earned a hitch with a dentist who was assigned to Kuwait in 2000. “I preferred the interaction with patients and wanted to get more involved in the clinical side of dentistry, so upon discharge enrolled in the University of Michigan’s dental school.”

“Much has changed in dentistry, just in the last 10 years that I have been in practice,” he said. “The first item I purchased here was a digital X-ray machine so I didn’t have to do wet developing of pictures. We don’t see crowns breaking like they used to. We have lab-fabricated crowns and bridges and the materials are harder and more reliable. Gold is nice, it lasts a long time; but zirconia crowns are white and more aesthetically pleasing than gold and last just as long as any other crown. Needles are sharper and don’t poke so hard.”

He has combined the two doctor’s staff and kept all of them on board with10 full timers, including three assistants, four hygienists and two office managers. They are accepting new patients in the combined practice. “We are thrilled that he took us all on,” said Lori Barnes, Dr. Dornbos’ dental assistant. “He takes his time with everybody. It’s just his special personality.”

“I liked Vicksburg from the beginning. It’s a great spot between Chicago and Detroit, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. I’m looking forward to a long future in Vicksburg and providing high-quality dentistry,” Dr. Ford said.

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