Friday, October 03, 2003

Trading Spaces

I arranged to meet with the landlord of an office building about half a block away from my house tomorrow morning. This is an office that I had first learned of over a year ago when my wife told me she saw it listed in the back of the local medical society journal. I had never noticed this building before even though I must have passed it hundreds of times. Since then I have taken a walk-through twice, so maybe the third time's the charm. It is very small, about 700 square feet. The rent is $1399/month (works out to $2.00/sq. ft. Offices near the hospital are $2.50-3.00/sq. ft.), but I have the option of renting out only 2 of the 3 rooms for $1000/month and the chiropractor who is already there will stay on in his month to month lease. I was told I would have the option to "move into" the 3rd room anytime.

Since my practice model is to go small, with low overhead and no employees, it doesn't bother me to have a small office. The coziness of it all may add to the "small town charm" I'm trying to establish. One room will be my office, the other will be the exam room. There is already a waiting room and a receptionist area that won't get much use. Eventually, I will rent out the 3rd room, and use that for storage and as a place for my daughters to hang out when they come visit. Currently, they come to my office at Kaiser about once or twice a month while I do paperwork. My office walls are their art gallery and my patients comment all the time about their creations.

Other offices I have considered: a comparably sized 2 room office (but it is on the second floor of a building with no elevator - bad for elderly and wheelchair-bound patients); a medical office in the neighboring town which is very nice (but then I can't really market myself as being the ONLY family practitioner in South Pasadena when I'm not even located in South Pasadena); the first floor of an old craftsman-style house (but would need a lot of work to re-make the living room as an exam room). It's a lot like buying a house, but with a much smaller inventory. Fortunately, office rents are nowhere near the stratosphere like housing prices are in this burb.

Besides being the most suitable, the 1st office is on the ground floor, and is next door to an already established OB-Gyn doctor. This could result in some synergy, as newly-delivered mothers would no doubt need the services of a doctor who could do well child checks and treat the sundry colds and flus.

Plus you can't beat walking across the street to go to work.

If I sign a lease, the landlord said he would need 30 days to give notice to the acupuncturist who is currently occupying the space, then 2 weeks to paint and fix up. That would mean December 1st is the soonest I could move in, giving me about 1 month to get ready to hang my shingle by January 5th. Can it be done?

It's quite a leap to go from a physician partner in a secure organization to being on my own. The enormity of it all is slowly seeping into my consciousness, as I think about all the things I still have to do. "Controlled chaos" is my best description. But it's nothing compared to the controlled chaos that modern managed health care has become. I just hope I'm not trading a frying pan for the fire. Uh, hmm . . . . is it just me or is it starting to get hot in here?

Countdown: 94 days until target start date