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Despite dentistry being in his DNA, Charters Towers practice owner Dr Girish Basavaraj is making moves to create his own legacy, one that has endeared him to a new generation of admirers. By Tracey Porter
When Dr Girish Basavaraj first moved to Australia from his native India, he had a whole lot of baggage.
As the first member of his family to migrate halfway across the world, the father of one not only had to transport all his personal effects, he had to carry the burden of expectation that comes with being part of a family with three generations having chosen the same profession.
His grandfather was the first to pursue a dental education, followed by his father, uncle, aunt, and other family members so naturally it was expected he would one day join the family business.
“In total, my family boasts about 15 dentists and five dental specialists. My decision to leave India and move to Australia in 2007 was to establish my own identity and create new opportunities. I felt I was always identified as someone’s grandson or son, which limited my personal growth.”
How it all began
Dr Basavaraj graduated from the world-renowned dental school, Bapuji Dental College and Hospital in 2001.
Graduating with a Masters in Paediatric Dentistry in 2005, he went on to work as a senior lecturer at a private dental school in India, before obtaining his licence to practise in Australia.
Dr Basavaraj soon discovered moving to the land of opportunity did not mean his professional journey would go without a hitch.
Finding himself in Townsville, Dr Basavaraj got a job almost straight away where he stayed for five years. But with little flexibility and even less room for growth, he began looking for somewhere to set up on his own.
He discovered Charters Towers, a town about 120km from Townsville and a feeder location for many of the city’s dental patients. Fortunately, a medical practice came up for rent and he was able to start his first clinic Toothcare – We Care in 2012.
In 2015 Dr Basavaraj and his software engineer wife were approached by another Charters Towers practice, Goldcity Dental Centre (GDC), about acquiring the practice. The Basavaraj’s purchased the business but leased the building. Last year Dr Basavaraj decided the time had come to move the business to a new purpose-built facility.
Believing that all individuals have a responsibility to contribute to the growth and wellbeing of the area they serve, Dr Basavaraj felt strongly that his commitment to supporting local people and projects at GDC should go beyond the provision of dental services.
To this end, he determined that the new build be carried out by local tradespeople as a way of contributing to the local economy and fostering a sense of community involvement.
In addition to employing local tradespeople, he made a conscious effort to source the majority of the building materials from local trade shops and prioritised supporting local stationery shops.
Dr Basavaraj has also led a professional relationship between GDC and Queensland Health where the practice treats patients under an outsourcing agreement. Dr Basavaraj says one of the key advantages of this partnership is the reduction of waiting times for patients at Queensland Health clinics.
“By outsourcing some of the dental treatments to GDC, patients can receive timely care and address their dental needs more efficiently. This helps alleviate the burden on the public healthcare system and ensures that patients can access dental services without excessive delays.
“Additionally, GDC plays a vital role in addressing emergency dental issues for Queensland Health patients. By providing prompt and timely treatment, they contribute to the management of dental emergencies and help ease patients’ discomfort or pain. This collaboration allows Queensland Health to address the urgent dental needs of their patients in a more expedited manner.”
The GDC team also undertake tooth fairy oral health education visits as part of their efforts to educate young children about oral health and instil good dental habits.
Utilising age-appropriate materials, visuals, and interactive activities to enhance the learning experience, the team teaches the importance of oral hygiene, proper brushing and flossing techniques, and the role of a healthy diet in maintaining good oral health.
But his good work doesn’t end there.
As part of this philosophy, GDC is currently in the process of formulating an agreement with a local aged care facility in Townsville to provide dental care to the facility’s residents who face challenges in accessing traditional dental clinics.
By bringing dental services directly to the aged care facility, Dr Basavaraj aims to ensure that these patients receive essential dental care conveniently and comfortably.
Dr Basavaraj says while the impact of generosity on a clinic’s bottom line may not always be immediate or directly quantifiable, the positive reputation, increased visibility, patient loyalty, collaborations, and staff morale generated through community support can contribute to the clinic’s long-term financial success.
Committing such acts is important on a professional as well as personal level, he says. “Contributing to the community brings a sense of personal fulfilment and satisfaction. Knowing that one is making a positive difference in the lives of others can be deeply rewarding and can enhance one’s own wellbeing.
“Giving back in a positive manner is important because it allows us to create a positive impact, fosters empathy and compassion, builds stronger communities, promotes personal growth and fulfilment, sets a positive example, and cultivates a sense of gratitude. It is a way of making the world a better place and contributing to the wellbeing of others.”