Twain Harte Family Dental re-opens

Twain Harte Family Dental has opened its doors again after a massive pine tree smashed through the building during a windstorm on Dec. 1, 2011.

No one was injured when the 100-foot tree sliced through the center of building, however, more than 15 people were in the structure when it was damaged, according to dentist Phil Grossman. He said some people were 6 inches from the tree when it fell through the roof.

"As we cleared rooms and confirmed that everyone was safely evacuated out of the building, we were extremely grateful to find that no one was seriously injured," he said.

The dentist office has been in business since 1986 and is owned by Grossman and dentist Charlie McKelvey, with associate dentist Ed Russell. The office has 14 employees.

With their office severely damaged, the three-member team of dentists set up temporary offices that were offered to them by colleagues in the community.

"The logistics that had to happen to make this a reality were nothing short of impossible, but thanks to our wonderful staff we were able to persevere," Grossman said.

Twain Harte Family Dental set up a temporary office across the parking lot from the damaged building by the end of December.

Contractor David Slankey rebuilt the office over the next five months. The bulk of the construction project was finished by the end of May and the dentists moved back in on Memorial Day weekend, Grossman said.

The building had to be re-roofed and two thirds of the interior walls were taken out because the tree cracked studs. Grossman said the damages totaled several hundred thousand dollars.

He said repairs to the damaged building were paid for by insurance, but the owners also invested in improvements.

The disused dark room in the dental office was turned into another examination room with a dental chair. The dental office now does all of its X-rays using digital imaging.

The building owners used the opportunity to update the look and design of the office and make it more comfortable for patients. Flat screen TVs were added and the building has improved accessibility for people with disabilities.

"All and all it was quite a challenging year, and we hope to never have to repeat it, but through it all we feel that we have emerged a stronger team and a better practice," Grossman said.

The tree that damaged the dental office fell during a wind storm that cut a path of destruction across the Mother Lode with downed power lines, uprooted trees and 90-mile-per-hour gusts. More than a dozen homes were damaged or destroyed in the storm.

Contact Ryan Campbell at or 588-4534.

The Union Democrat
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