Franklin Park doctor and dentist share more than just an office
Dentist Smita Patel runs Family Dentistry in the same Franklin Park building as her husband, Dr. Bhupendra Patel, who runs Patel Medical Esthetics. | Photos courtesy of Smita Patel
Updated: February 25, 2013 11:50AM
FRANKLIN PARK — Carpooling is easy for doctor Bhupendra Patel and dentist Smita Patel, who share a building in downtown Franklin Park.
Since 1999, the couple has worked behind the green awning at 9663 Franklin Ave. printed with the words Patel Medical Esthetics and Family Dentistry.
Their history, however, goes back to when both were in school. Smita was born in India and attended dental school at State University of New York in Buffalo. Bhupendra was born in Tanzania and attended medical school in Mexico.
“Our traditional (Indian) value was that when you wanted to get married, the parents introduced you,” Bhupendra said. “When my mom went to India to find me a wife, I said, ‘I don’t want to marry a physician.’ That was the only stipulation. We know we have to be on call.”
“(Being a doctor is) more time demanding and constant work,” Smita said. “Dentistry is work, but at home you don’t have to worry. No emergencies, no phone calls.”
The two were introduced in India 30 years ago and then married. After looking around Chicago, Smita bought the practice of a retiring dentist in Franklin Park in 1992. Later the two bought the entire building and remodeled it.
“The dentist before me was here 12 to 14 years,” Smita said. “He bought it from another dentist who was here a long time. I have at least a couple patients who have been coming here for more than 40 years.”
In 1999, Bhupendra moved in and started a private practice. The location appealed to both of them due to the high percentage of residents of Latino ancestry in the area. Both doctor and dentist speak Spanish.
Though they share a building, their workdays are frequently separate.
“It depends how busy we are,” Bhupendra said. “We drive in together and go home together.”
The two practices share office equipment and a phone number, but the staff is in separate spaces. Though they advertise one-stop care, patients tend to see one or the other, but not both.
“Some people come here and say, ‘I didn’t know there was a doctor or dentist here,’” Smita said.
She added: “The advantage is mostly for me. I don’t do the majority of management. I don’t pay any bills. If anything breaks, he’s there. I just do the dentistry.”
About 80 percent of their clientele is Latino, from blue-collar families who live within a ten-mile radius.
Each also has a sub-specialty within their profession. For the last five years Smita has practiced sleep medicine, which aims to treat people who have breathing difficulties while sleeping.
Bhupendra also offers aesthetic services such as assisting with weight loss, using Botox, skin care and so forth.
“Insurance reimbursement (for internal medicine) has been decreasing with time,” Bhupendra said. “I was attending a conference, they were talking about aesthetics. That’s how I got interested.”
Both say payment – either by insurance company or patient – can be a challenge.
“The practice of medicine is very satisfying, very rewarding,” Bhupendra said. “The problem we face is dealing with insurance.”
“People have no idea how much education a doctor puts in,” Smita said. “They have no idea what it costs to run a practice. They always think its too much money.”