Gwinnett Oral Surgeon Dr. Robert Ellis... reflections on 35 years in Gwinnett
By Beth Volpert Johansen
Dr. Robert Ellis has been pulling teeth and pulling legs for generations of Gwinnett and surrounding area residents.
He is a part of a community that was built on word-of-mouth referrals...and when your business is oral surgery, that is the best kind of advertisement.
With patients that span from grandparents down to their grandchildren, Dr. Ellis has seen a tremendous number of people from his own community in his exam chair since he first began practicing in Gwinnett County in 1980 as an associate of Dr. James Sparks’ before opening his own practice in Lawrenceville. “After retirement, I will miss the young people,” says Dr. Ellis. “Having them as patients and even some of them as interns has been great-watching them grow into adults-it proves there is still hope!”
Right: Dr. Ellis and his assistant work with the most up-to-date imaging equipment available.
“One of the most unique things about Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is that we are the only specialty that is allowed to provide our own anesthesia,” says Dr. Ellis. “I completed a two year fellowship in Anesthesiology at Ohio State University.” Dr. Ellis went on to complete his residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery before moving with his family to settle in Georgia.
When he first came to Gwinnett, the hospital “system” residents enjoy today was not in existence. “There was Button Gwinnett Hospital in Lawrenceville, but nothing in Snellville,” says Dr. Ellis. “Being a part of the early growth of our present hospital system was gratifying because as it grew, the quality of care grew.”
Left: The latest in technology allows Dr. Ellis and his staff to see exactly what they are working on inside a patient.
Beyond the standard wisdom teeth and extractions, Dr. Ellis has found that trauma care has a special place in his heart. “It is satisfying to help put a body back together following something like a bad car wreck,” says Dr. Ellis. “Even with the more difficult tumors and cancers, it is gratifying to be able to work with a patient from the beginning to the end of treatment to see the outcome.”
Growing a successful practice comes with the addition of staff members. For Dr. Ellis, his staff and associates are family. “We spend a great deal of time together in the office and in the operating room,” says Dr. Ellis. “You have to be able to rely on medical skills as well as their people skills-face it, many people come here with a problem, we are likely going to cause them some pain in resolving it, so it is important to have the right staff here to handle the process with me from day one.”
Long Time employee and friend, Kathy Riley says, “All of Dr Ellis' long time employees will certainly miss him. He has been a great teacher. We will miss his knowledge his stories and friendship.” Linda Flippin has worked with Dr. Ellis since 1981 and has found her work experience to have been an honor and a privilege. “I have learned so much from him, not only in oral surgery but life as well,” says Linda. “Through ‘calm seas and raging storms’ he has always been a blessing to me and I wish him the best retirement possible...he has earned it.”
To provide the best possible care, Dr. Ellis’s practice includes state-of-the-art operating equipment and highly trained anesthesia staff. Despite having years of experience, Dr. Ellis still gets excited with new technology. “Just look at this imaging equipment,” says Dr. Ellis. “Right here is our former dark room where we developed films and next to it is a computer with 3D.” The former dark room is now used to store supplies and is still painted black as a reminder of days gone by. “Technology will march on, but I will sit back and watch it.”
With retirement on the horizon, Dr. Ellis looks towards the many ships and beach-themed items in his office. His favorite is a frame with a photo of his grandkids on the beach. “My wife and I will spend more time with the grandkids,” says Dr. Ellis. “I have not had a summer off in 35 years since that is our busiest time-when kids are out of school and can recover- I am really looking forward to it...I wonder what it will be like.”