The Right Move

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The Right Move
by Rich Smith

In the real estate business, location is everything. In the business of plastic surgery, skill is everything – although location counts for plenty, too, as Michelle Hardaway, MD, FACS, can attest.

Not long ago, Hardaway moved her solo practice, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and Laser Center, from Southfield, the upscale Detroit suburb where it was launched in 1995, to the neighboring, and equally posh, community of Farmington Hills. Her choice of location stimulated further growth for the already successful practice and accelerated a shift in case focus from adequately paid reconstructive work to very lucrative cosmetic procedures.

“I wanted a freestanding building near an expressway and on a major street, a location with good accessibility,” says Hardaway, a board-certified plastic and general surgeon licensed to practice both in Michigan and New York. “I felt that having the right location would give my practice a lot of visibility, which it has: people drive by on their way to and from work. Day in and day out, they can’t help noticing the building, noticing the signage that tells them this is a place you can come to for services to improve appearance. Their familiarity with my building gets at least some of them thinking that this is the first place to go when shopping for a plastic surgeon.”

After purchasing the 4000 square-foot building, Hardaway hired an architect to help give the low-rise structure a complete face-lift.

“The idea was to make the building look different from the others on the block, which would make it easier to find by people coming here for the first time,” she says, explaining her belief that patients arrive for their initial consultations in a better frame of mind if they have little or no trouble reaching their destination. “I think it’s essential to try to do everything possible to increase the patient’s comfort level. That’s not only going to help the patient come to a decision sooner about the contemplated procedure, but it’s also going to go a long way toward helping him or her mentally prepare for surgery.”

Making the Cut

One of the reasons Hardaway bought this particular building was that it offered sufficient space for an in-office ambulatory surgery suite that could gain the seal of approval from the American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF).

“I had an in-office surgery suite at my previous location, but to obtain AAAASF accreditation, I was going to require a much larger space than what my office at that time could accommodate,” she says. “Accreditation is important to me because it serves to assure consumers that surgeries I perform in my office are safe and quality driven.”

As things stand, the suite is so well equipped and staffed that Hardaway can handle most of the cosmetic procedures requested by her patients there.

“I’ll perform surgery in a hospital setting instead only when the patient fails to satisfy my selection criteria.” she says. “Patient safety is a main determinant of whether any given individual can best be accommodated by my in-office facility or the hospital. Generally, if the patient has certain medical problems, I feel more comfortable performing the procedure in a hospital. Or, if the procedure is such that a postoperative overnight slay is indicated, then the hospital is the place to perform it.”

Hardaway – who is affiliated with several major hospitals in the Detroit metropolitan area, including Beaumont Hospital, Providence Hospital, and Harper Hospi