Winning Business of the Year at Moreton Bay Region Business Excellence and Innovation Awards in 2017 changed the course of Sonia Sonia’s business and life.
With COVID-19 ruling out this year’s awards, we’re shining a light on superstars from previous years and asking … what are they up to now?
Dr Sonia’s business Kallangur Dental won Business of the Year and the Customer Service Award in 2017, following it up with another Customer Service Award in 2018 and making the finals in the same category in 2019.
She’s passionate about making her customers feel at ease through genuine and calming interactions, but also by creating a relaxed and inviting environment in the surgery.
It’s something she and her team have focused on during the COVID-19 pandemic, remaining open throughout, so they didn’t let their patients down.
“With so much uncertainty and stress, we didn’t want them to panic about a toothache and wanted them to know we were still here,” Sonia says.
“We were very busy during that time and people were so thankful that we could see them. At the end of the day, we’re healthcare professionals.”
Sonia donated masks to local GPs, when there was a shortage around the time of a push for flu vaccinations.
Her generosity will continue on December 16, when she offers free check-ups and cleans for frontline hospital staff from 8am-5pm.
The offer is open to staff at Redcliffe Hospital, Peninsula Private Hospital, and other hospitals in the Moreton Bay Region. Multiple dentists will be working but appointments are limited, so book in fast.
“They’ve proven their oath this year, putting people first before themselves. This year, I think they have come out as heroes. They always do, but I think we’re valuing them even more this year,” Sonia says.
“No-one has hesitated to do it. These are the things that bring the team up. Anything that ends this year on a positive note, is good.”
Sonia says her family understands the sacrifices made by frontline healthcare staff. Her husband works in the emergency department at Ipswich Hospital and had to be tested for COVID-19 after falling ill.
She had to explain to their two young children what was happening and why they couldn’t go near their father. It was hard.
He arrived home, after being tested, wearing a mask and not looking well and his children couldn’t hug him. They both started crying.
Sonia says the experience made them realise they are on the frontline and at risk of contracting COVID-19.
While his test results were negative, it prompted a conversation about what they needed to do to protect themselves and what they would do if they contracted the virus.
He rented an apartment for a week, during the height of the COVID-19 shutdown, so his family was not put at risk.
“That’s what people were doing. They didn’t want to go home and spread it,” Sonia explains.
She knows of people in Sydney and Melbourne who had to live away from their families for weeks, and of frontline health workers based in India and the US who had died.
“We’re pretty lucky here in Australia but we (also) didn’t see anyone, ‘say take me off my job (it’s too risky)’,” Sonia says.
She and her staff wore hazmat suits, masks and goggles so they could continue to work safely. They had a room set aside for removing PPE.
“I was concerned what people in emergency departments and ICUs were doing. People did extra shifts. They worked really hard this year,” she says.
“It’s more than the work. It’s the mindset, it’s the stress. This (day of free dental care) is what we wanted to do because I’ve seen it firsthand in my family.”
Sonia says winning Moreton Bay Region Business Excellence and Innovation Awards was validation of her decision to buy the Kallangur surgery and has given her confidence to trust her instincts.
The higher profile has also enabled her to give back to the community – which is at the core of everything she does. It has also doubled her business.
“I was the underdog against all these incredible businesses. I couldn’t believe it was me who won,” she recalls.
She asked the judges “what they saw” and was told the main thing that stood out was the way she and her team had defied the odds.
“The journey since then has been more to give back to the community,” Sonia says.
“It has changed the course of the business and life for us. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life.”
Want to know more about Kallangur Dental? Head to the website
Are you a frontline hospital worker who wants to register for dental care on December 16? Phone 3886 0933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org