By Alexander Germanis
In August of 1990, Stephen Doran, DMD, started a practice in Bloomington with the goal of providing the community and all of Central Illinois with the best and most advanced oral and maxillofacial surgical care possible.
A year later Dr. Doran was joined by Jack Capodice, MD, DMD, and they in turn welcomed David Efaw, MD, DDS, and further on Thomas Ocheltree, DMD, adding to their little ‘family’ and expanding their ability to help and heal.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck late in 2018, as Dr. Doran suddenly and unexpectedly passed away during one of his many charitable medical sojourns in Haiti. His passing left voids in so many ways and in so many places it seemed impossible to fill any one of them.
But so faithful had Dr. Doran been to the original plan of providing ever-improving care, even in passing, he had insured the practice’s legacy of care would live on.
Reengaging in the Work
When there’s still work to be done, there is little time to simply just mourn, or sadness will quickly be joined by even more stress. “It’s felt like an eternity since our good friend and partner passed away but the workload hasn’t changed,” explains Dr. Ocheltree. “So what used to be distributed amongst four was then distributed amongst three. It kept us a little busier than we’re used to being. Sometimes that can put a little extra stress in your life and in the practice.”
Some of that stress has fallen on Dr. Capodice’s shoulders in the form of a certain mantle of leadership. Nevertheless, he feels a certain sense of positivity as they reengage in the work. “Steve was very much a presence at this practice from a professional and personal standpoint,” shares Dr. Capodice. “He was a good thinker; he was passionate, emotional, driven. It has been a big void. But I don’t feel overburdened because we’ve always governed by committee.”
Joining that committee and helping ameliorate the burdened practice is Dr. Anthony Elger. “I am thrilled for so many reasons to have him here,” Dr. Capodice adds.
Filling the Shoes
Recently joining the practice after the conclusion of his residency at the Hospital of Cook County, Anthony Elger, DMD, has gotten up to speed very quickly. “It’s a testament to his personality, training, and background,” says Dr. Ocheltree. “He’s great with patients and he makes good, sound, clinical judgments. He’s a great addition to our practice.”
His addition had been a plan in the making by none other than Dr. Doran himself. “Dr. Doran was instrumental in bringing him in,” Dr. Efaw reveals. “He introduced Anthony to us, we had a chance to meet him and his wife as a group, and we liked him.”
“He is a good person,” Dr. Capodice continues. “He is honest, hardworking, accomplished. His skill level in oral and maxillofacial surgery is beyond his years of training. He has that small town mentality that he is going to treat people like he would want to be treated, and it’s great.”
Dr. Elger has that small town mentality because that’s exactly where he comes from. “We lived in Metamora, so I grew up in a small town community and really liked it,” he says. “I also headed to Bloomington a lot and had family and friends here.”
As he had grown up in his father’s field of construction, Dr. Elger initially attended Bradley University for civil engineering; but something in him told him to take a somewhat different path. “I thought I’d do something out of the ordinary so I went to Southern University for my biology bachelor,” he recalls. “My mentor got me into oral surgery. I really enjoyed working with people and doing the procedures, so I pursued that goal.”
Sharing a nearly identical educational path with Dr. Doran, Dr. Elger also found his path repeatedly crossing with Dr. Doran’s at medical conferences. Always with an eye on evolving the practice, Dr. Doran approached Dr. Elger just last summer with a proposal. “He asked, ‘You looking for a job?’” Dr. Elger remembers. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’d like to move back to the area.’ I really liked the practice, liked everyone here, liked what they did for the community, and I knew this is where I wanted to go.”
“I hope I can fit in with these guys and continue,” Dr. Elger goes on to say. “The staff is amazing and the team effort we’ve got here is great.”
As happy as Dr. Elger was to return to his home area, he knew it was better for his family as well. Dr. Elger’s wife, Nicole, practices general dentistry in Bloomington, and with three small children, the family is enjoying the smaller town feel of Central Illinois.
A Menu of Services
One of the things that attracted Dr. Elger to the practice in the first place was the work it performed in the community. Every year the doctors hold a free extraction clinic for the less fortunate in the Spring and in the Fall. For those with little to no insurance coverage yet are in dire need of having bad teeth removed, the clinic is for them.
But that’s far from everything they handle. Aside from extractions, the doctors cover—as Dr. Capodice puts it—“a menu of services,” handling jaw surgery, dental implants, wisdom teeth extraction, bone grafting, oral pathology, and facial trauma.
A broad reaching practice both in scope of skill and in the sheer expanse of area they serve, the doctors see patients who are willing to travel well over an hour to receive care. “Even with Dr. Doran gone, I think with Dr. Elger we’re going to have the same positive impact on patients,” Dr. Ocheltree says.
Such an impact comes from patients knowing they are getting the best care around. Knowledge, as Dr. Capodice points out, is power. “The most important thing for people to know is the difference in the services they’re receiving,” he says. “Know your provider. Know what specialty training means. Know what board certification means. Especially in the days of so many corporate dental offices that have traveling specialists or general practitioners doing specialty care, really be aware of the quality of the services being proposed or potentially delivered. That is of paramount importance.”
Knowing will also bring peace of mind. “Every one of us is so well-rounded in oral and maxillofacial surgery practice, I would let any one of these guys work on me or my family doing any of the procedures that I do,” Dr. Ocheltree assures.
Although some faces in the practice may be changing, its goal remains unchanged. In fact, Dr. Elger’s arrival has already begun to fulfill what Dr. Doran had in mind when he started the practice 29 years ago.
Dr. Efaw explains how this evolution of sorts will keep the practice alive for generations to come. “For this practice to continue to provide a continuity of care for this area it needs to bring in a new, qualified surgeon and keep abreast of the new things available to our specialty and thus provide them to our patients,” he says. “That’s our end goal: As the community ages we’d like to age with it.”
Drs. Capodice, Efaw, Ocheltree and Elger provide a full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery with expertise ranging from wisdom tooth removal and dental implants to bone grafting procedures, corrective jaw surgery, and cosmetic facial surgery. Their office is located at 109 Regency Dr. in Bloomington. For more information, you may call 309-663-2526 or visit them online at www.dceooms.com.