His staff and patients call him "Disco Doc." He's 33 years old, has a degree in art as well as a D.D.S., practices in Honolulu, and, indeed, drills to the beat of a different drum.
His name is Rodney Chang, and for the price of $4000, he's given a fresh new meaning to the term "dental records' by; converting his dental office waiting room into a discotheque. Aptly called "Da Waiting Room," - it features a first in dental auxiliaries - a live D.J. - who not only flips discs but gives upbeat preventive dental tips to waiting patients as they dip and swirl around the 8' by 10' dance floor. and, to back up the good advice, free sugarless punch is served in lieu of the alcoholic fare that is customary at most discotheques.
"This atmosphere should help change the image of the doctor's waiting room as one of hospital-green walls and old magazines and a background shrill of a high-speed drill," says Dr. Chang. "I hope that I have successfully engineered a contemporary dental treatment environment that will result in an overall reduction in not only patients' anxiety but potential staff ulcers."
Dr. Chang has found that the discotheque waiting room is already a "practice-builder" because of its attraction of young patients looking for something different. Further, many of his patients are of low income and cannot afford to go nightclubbing in the more expensive areas around Honolulu. Da Waiting Room, which is open six days and several nights a week, thus provides an alternative source of entertainment.
"Patients are registered VIPs and can gain night entrance during working hours to the only free disco in Honolulu," Dr. Chang comments, noting each patient's appointment is also worth a coupon for a friend's admittance to the disco.
Although he expects that many new patients will probably walk in, turn around, and recheck the sign on the front door, Dr. Chang confidently states that those who have stayed have not been bothered by the music, either in the waiting room or at chairside, where it is piped in from the discotheque. "The rhythm goes perfectly with six-handed dentistry via four chairs, and fewer instruments are now dropped between dental assistant and operator," he declares. Those assistants who didn't cotton to the discotheque idea have since departed, he reports, and those who are now in his employ will get allowances for uniforms that are a colorful departure from the usual starched white.
How did Dr. Chang come upon the idea of Da Waiting Room? Well, it was a combination of his artistic flair, his concern for the local community, and his puzzlement over what to do with 460 square feet of office space. "There were inadequate funds to conventionally develop this adjoining space into more dental operatories. Thus it was first going to be used for storage, and then it went through the theoretical progression from temporary accounting space, to staff lounge, to an area for free dance lessons for patients, and then to a discotheque," recounts Dr. Chang. "I didn't have to invest a lot to furnish it either, because I had a number of my own household furnishings in storage."
During the day, the room is kept dim to maintain the dramatic effect of disco theatrical lighting. At night, there is added overhead in the person of another first in dental auxiliaries - a male receptionist built like a nightclub bouncer who escorts female patients to their cars in the parking lot.
"With this reception room design I hope to demonstrate to the average dental patient that doctors, too, enjoy life and are cognizant of the social changes that also govern other community members," Dr. Chang declares. "And," he adds, "if I'm going to be behind schedule sometimes, then the least I want to do for that waiting, foot-tapping patient is to keep him entertained."