Guest Column — Kevin Tighe — Ten Point Checklist to Reduce Cancellations and No-Shows

CEO Cambridge Dental Consultants

Kevin Tighe is the managing partner of Cambridge Dental Consultants.  We think of him as being a combination of brilliant insight and applied common sense.  Let’s see some of his wisdom:

Ten Point Checklist to Reduce Cancellations and No-Shows

Reducing cancellations and no-shows have similar but different protocols for:

  1. New patients
  2. Patients due for re-care
  3. Patients past due for re-care
  4. Patients scheduled for operative

Ten Point Checklist

  1. Patient communication: Despite amazing technology available to dental offices, the most important step to keep no-shows and cancellations low is talking to patients while they are in the practice to ensure they’re educated on the negative effects on their oral and overall health that can occur if they do not receive the needed treatment and on-going re-care.
  1. Confirming appointments: It is key that you assign confirmation to one team member otherwise there is no real accountability. That team member should have outstanding communication skills and have their ear “tuned” to lack of commitment phrases from patients and handle accordingly.
  1. Communication preference: Find out how patients prefer to be contacted i.e., postcard, text, email, or phone. Texting is now, in general, the preferred method. I do not recommend offering a postcard. Only use a postcard if a patient requests it.
  1. Confirmation schedule: 3-3-1— three weeks, three days, and one day, unless a patient tells you differently.
  1. Confirm directly: Certain types of patients need to be confirmed directly no matter what. Examples:

a) Previously broke an appointment.

b) Those in their 20s.

c) Medicaid patients or any other government plan (those who pay cash or have private insurance are more reliable).

d) Patients who have not been in the practice for a long time.

e) International patients due to language barriers or different moral codes.

f) A parent or spouse who made appointment for a grown child or their spouse.

Note: For chronic broken appointment patients (three broken appointments or not sorry after the second broken appointment) dismiss or only allow on your short call list.

  1. Short call list: Helps plug holes in your appointment book.
  1. Operative: One day before unless the appointment was booked well in advance, in which case it’s 3-3-1.
  1. New patients: A call from the dentist welcoming the new patient to the practice will cut down on new patient no-shows.
  1.  No shows: Call the patient right away. If you do not reach the patient, let them know you’ll try back in a week. Repeat a week later if necessary. If there is still no response, put them on automatic reminders using their preferred form of communication.
  1. Continue to follow up: After a month or so of no response, continue to make calls based on your knowledge of a patient without becoming obnoxious or seeming desperate. How many calls you make should be based on what you know about a patient. You should not be rote about how often you call, i.e., if you know the patient is out of town for a few weeks, is ill, or whatever the case may be, schedule your calls accordingly.

Cambridge’s website is, and the toll-free phone number is 800-595-2380

UPDATE — Judge overturns plea bargain agreement for former dental office employee in Rutland, VT

blank Update May 2018: Deviating from a plea agreement, a Rutland County criminal court judge sentenced a Pittsford woman to serve six months in home confinement for what was described as eight-and-a-half years of embezzling from a dental practice, where the woman was so much a part of the family, she was a member of the dentist’s daughter’s bridal party. Karen Valach, 50, pleaded guilty to two felony charges of embezzlement in February under a plea agreement that called for her to be sentenced to no more than 28 days in prison. At a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, attorney T. Lamar Enzor, who represented Valach, asked Judge Thomas Zonay to consider ordering a sentence served under home confinement. After hearing statements by Dr. Michael Dick, former owner of Cornerstone Dentistry, and Dick’s daughter, Sarah Coote, Zonay told Enzor he would not be willing to consider a home confinement sentence unless it was longer than 28 days. Enzor said he had already discussed the possibility with his client and Valach told the judge she would accept a longer sentence without withdrawing her plea. Zonay also sentenced Valach to five years of probation. Enzor said Valach had also brought a bank check for more than $50,400 to reimburse Dick. At the end of the hearing, Enzor gave the check to Rutland County Deputy State’s Attorney Travis Weaver. Valach was accused of embezzling from Dick, and later from Dr. Sonia Yau after she bought the practice. One of the two embezzlement charges named Dick and the other named Yau. Valach had already made restitution of about $21,000 to Yau, Enzor said, and insurance covered the rest. Valach, who appeared to be in tears several times during the hearing, read a statement in which she apologized to her former co-workers. “The phrase, ‘I’m sorry’ seems very insignificant in light of what I’ve done, but I truly am very sorry. In my desperate mind, I felt like taking cash from my employer was much simpler than just letting my husband know what kind of financial trouble we were in. It did go on for a while, and I never stopped to realize just how much I was taking,” she said. Reading her statement, Coote said Valach had become “my mentor, my surrogate mother, a best friend and a support to me in both my personal and professional lives.” “On the most important day of my life, Karen stood up for me at my wedding. Ironically, she took money right before my wedding and right after,” Coote said. Coote said Valach had embezzled about $102,000 from the dental practice, where she handled money deposits, between 2009 and 2016. She condemned Valach for making “endless excuses” and failing to tell people at the practice about the extent of the embezzlement, even after it was first discovered. Coote said Valach had hurt the family by telling people she left Cornerstone “because her workmates were petty and there was animosity in the office.” Dick, who was part of a group of about 10 people connected with Cornerstone who attended the sentencing hearing, said the practice shared its profits with all the staff so when Valach embezzled, she was taking money from her coworkers as well. “Most importantly to me, Ms. Valach has not shown any remorse, acknowledgment or apology to me since the discovery. In the time frame between the initial discovery and charges being filed, a period of over five to six weeks, if Ms. Valach had ever contacted me, acknowledged the embezzlement, apologized and attempted to make restitution, I am sure we all would not be here in court today, spending time and taxpayer dollars on these proceedings,” he said. Dick asked Zonay to make sure “crime does not pay.” Valach’s husband, Tom Valach, said the situation had been “devastating” for his family. “She’s not a monster. She’s not a bad person,” he said. Tom Valach said he and his wife had been to counseling, taken a financial class and found a pastor to work with them. In her statement, Karen Valach said she hoped “one day my former coworkers won’t think of me in a hateful way but maybe as a person who has screwed up and can be forgiven.” On Tuesday, Zonay said the home confinement sentence was to start immediately.
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Update Feb 2018: A Pittsford woman is facing about a month in jail after pleading guilty on Tuesday to two felony counts of embezzlement. Karen Valach, 50, was arraigned in Rutland criminal court last March on three felony counts of embezzlement after police said she took about $30,000 from Cornerstone Dentistry in Rutland. Valach worked at the front desk. A police affidavit said she handled the money deposits for the practice. Dr. Sonia Yau, the head of the practice, told the police Valach confessed to her in November 2016 she had been taking money from the practice since January of that year. Valach reached a plea agreement with the state Tuesday. The prosecution agreed they would ask for no more than three to five years in prison, with all that time suspended except for 28 days. The agreement caps the maximum restitution at $55,000. The defense is free to argue for a lower sentence. Once Valach is sentenced, the third embezzlement charge will be dismissed under the agreement. Sentencing is scheduled for May 29. Content retrieved from
Original story: Police said that a woman who worked for a local dentist’s office embezzled more than $100,000 over a period of almost eight years. Karen E. Valach, 49, of Pittsford, was cited on a single felony count of embezzlement. She is scheduled to appear in Rutland criminal court on March 13. Cpl. Adam Lucia, of the Rutland City Police Department, said in a statement that staff at Cornerstone Dentistry reported on Dec. 19 that an employee was suspected of fraudulent actions. After an investigation, police said Valach, a member of the office staff, had embezzled about $100,550 from January 2009 to November 2016. Valach was interviewed by officers with the Rutland City Police Department before being charged. Content retrieved from

Connecticut bookkeeper rips off dentist for $60k; had 2014 conviction for embezzlement

blankBRIDGEPORT – A Milford bookkeeper, serving a prison term for stealing more than $350,000 from a Redding tree service, pleaded not guilty Thursday to stealing more than $60,000 from a Fairfield dentist. Bernice Dohn, 57, the owner of Premier Accounting and Bookkeeping Services in Milford, pleaded not guilty before Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin to first-degree larceny and second-degree forgery. She asked for a jury trial. The judge continued the case to March 9. Dohn, of Rivercliff Drive, Milford, had been working for Dr. Kenneth Epstein of the Family Dental Group in Fairfield when she abruptly quit in February 2016 because she said she needed foot surgery, according to police. She was in fact surrendering the next day to begin a prison term for another embezzlement. Police said the dental office later determined that Dohn, who had been in charge of the office’s payroll, had been writing checks to herself from the office’s accounts. In addition, police said Dohn also altered checks sent to the dental office to make them payable to her and had been paying herself unauthorized raises and overtime. Dohn should have been getting a salary of $55,120 a year but when she quit she was making $85,609 by her own hand, police said. Dohn was sentenced Feb. 10 to four years in prison for stealing $365,000 from Evergreen Enterprises of Redding where she had been working as a bookkeeper for two years. At the time Dohn was on probation for embezzling $11,000 from a Berlin company where she worked as a bookkeeper. Police said she used some of the money she stole from Evergreen to pay restitution in the Berlin case and they believe she used money she allegedly stole from Dr. Epstein to pay back Evergreen.
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Here is her previous escapade from 2014: REDDING — A Milford resident has been accused of embezzling more than $165,000 over the course of two years while she was a bookkeeper at a Redding tree service company. Bernice Dohn, 55, has been charged with seven counts of second-degree forgery and one count of larceny after she admitted to cashing company checks and pocketing the money, according to court documents. Dohn, who was arrested Dec. 5 and is free on $75,000 bond, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Chris Hyatt, of Evergreen Enterprises, notified police in September when Dohn admitted to stealing from the company, according to the arrest affidavit. The Berlin Police Department, which charged Dohn on Sept. 19 with second-degree larceny, initially alerted Hyatt when they began investigating as much as $53,000 that had been deposited into her bank account over a nine-month period, according to the affidavit. Hyatt confronted Dohn, who confessed to taking money from his company, according to the affidavit. “Hyatt stated he believed Dohn was cashing the checks for his company to take the money and then record the check she cashed in the books as a company expense that was paid,” the affidavit said. Dohn told the police she took the money from Evergreen Enterprises, but was unsure how much, according to the affidavit. After reviewing bank records, she estimated she had embezzled $60,000, but said she didn’t have much of the money left, the affidavit said. According to the affidavit, Dohn made a deposit every month, cashing 93 checks totalling $165,141 from November 2012 to July 2014. According to Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., Evergreen Enterprises generates an average of $250,000 in yearly revenue. Hyatt could not be reached Thursday for comment. Content retrieved from

San Jose CA dental employee convicted of embezzlement


San Jose’s Rochelle Banting was convicted in 2015 of felony grand theft, insurance fraud and forgery relating to her work in two dental offices. In charge of the billing in two dentists offices over five years, Banting embezzled about $40,000, according to District Attorney Investigator Glenn McGovern. “You cannot have one person be the only one who understands the billing process,” McGovern said. ” I see this more and more where they trust someone, they are the only one who understand the whole process and they get out of control.” Banting was convicted of scamming her insurance carrier, which was not identified, by filing false claims for her, her husband or her six children, that were directly reimbursed to her. Later, at another dentist’s office, she directly pocketed cash payments from patients, McGovern said. At the time that she was charged with these offenses, media reports indicated that she had left her family and was in hiding. Banting, who may now be using the name “Chel Malig” and may be living in Sacramento, does have previous felony convictions in 2000 and 2001. There was an additional felony charge in 2011 that does not appear to have resulted in a conviction. In 2019, Ms. Banting requested that we remove this post, on the basis that she had been “cleared”, but the documents and court record suggest otherwise.
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Fla. Dental Assistant Charged with Insurance Fraud


A Florida dental assistant is facing charges of workers’ compensation fraud, grand theft and perjury after reportedly failing to tell her most recent employer that she had collected a $17,000 workers’ comp settlement for an allergic reaction to latex gloves while working for another dentist.

Carmen Burgado, 48, surrendered on the charges and was booked into the Duval County Jail. The insurance fraud charges follow an investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud.

According to authorities, Dr. James Spurling, whose office is located at 2500 Monument Road Suite 102, hired Burgado on Jan. 6, 2003. Four days later, Burgado reported she was having an allergic reaction to rubber gloves. The Hartford Insurance Company paid more than $13,000 in workers’ compensation coverage on Burgado’s claim, with Burgado collecting more than $8,500 directly as compensation.

After filing the most recent workers’ comp claim, Burgado reportedly denied in a deposition that she had any previous claim or a history of skin allergies or dermatitis.

Burgado was previously diagnosed with chronic dermatitis of the hands and informed that she should not wear latex gloves. On May 3, 1999, Burgado received $17,000 in a lump-sum settlement for a 1997 workers’ comp claim.

If convicted on the insurance related third-degree felonies, Burgado could be sentenced up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine on each charge.

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Acquitted of murder charges, Kingston NY dentist goes to prison for perjury, insurance fraud

Kingston dentist Gilberto Nunez sentenced to 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison

KINGSTON, N.Y. >> The Kingston dentist who was acquitted last year of killing his lover’s husband was sentenced on Tuesday to a maximum of seven years in state prison for numerous unrelated charges.

Gilberto Nunez, 49, of Poughkeepsie, was sentenced by Ulster County Judge Donald A. Williams for charges related to insurance fraud and lying on a pistol permit application. Williams called Nunez a “calculated liar” who has “shown absolutely no remorse.”

“You are devoid of any shame,” Williams said. “Tragically, and perhaps pathologically, you believe that society’s rules do not apply to you.

“Because I see no remorse, I see no chance of rehabilitation,” the judge said.

Nunez was convicted of a total of 12 felonies at three separate trials in Ulster County Court in 2016:

• During the spring trial at which he was acquitted of murdering Saugerties resident Thomas Kolman, Nunez was found guilty of two counts of perjury for having a fake CIA identification card on his computer and for giving Kolman’s wife, Linda, with whom Nunez was having an affair, a letter purporting to be from a CIA agent.

• In October, he was convicted of grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records, all related to an insurance claim he submitted after a February 2014 fire at a building he owned next to his dental office on Washington Avenue in Kingston. The jury agreed with the allegation that Nunez improperly received an $8,400 insurance payment for what he claimed was rent he lost due to the fire.

• And in November, he was found guilty of perjury, offering a false instrument, and filing an apparently false sworn statement for claiming on a pistol permit application that he never was terminated or discharged from employment or military service for cause. Nunez was discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1990 under “other than honorable conditions” after being absent without leave, or AWOL, for almost three years.

Williams sentenced Nunez to 1-1/3 to four years in prison for each of the convictions associated with the pistol permit application, to be served concurrently; and one to three years for each of the charges associated with the insurance claim, also to be served concurrently.

But the first and second sentences will be served consecutively, meaning the full term is 2-1/3 to seven years — with the minimum reduced to two years because of time Nunez already has spent in jail.blank

Nunez also was sentenced Tuesday to one year in jail for the charges related to the fake CIA documents, but that sentence is to be concurrent with the others, so it doesn’t raise the total.

Orange County Senior Assistant District Attorney Maryellen Albanese, the special prosecutor at all three of Nunez’s trials, asked Williams to give Nunez the maximum allowable sentence for each charge and to make all of them run consecutively, which could have led to a maximum of 42 years in prison.

In arguing for the harsh sentence, Albanese said Nunez committed the crimes to manipulate others for his own benefit.

“He is truly evil,” she said. “Society deserves protection from his sociopathic, narcissistic behavior.”

Defense attorney Evan Lipton asked Williams to order just six months of jail time and five years of probation, the sentence recommended by the Ulster County Probation Department. Pointing to 130 letters sent to the court in support of Nunez, Lipton said the dentist is a respected member of the community.

Williams said that under other circumstances, the charges of which Nunez was convicted probably would have led to a plea bargain resulting in misdemeanor charges, and the judge scoffed at the suggestion by Albanese that all of the sentences run consecutively, or back to back.

Still, the judge had harsh words for Nunez.

“What these trials demonstrated is that he was an individual who was consumed, consumed by an illicit affair” and was “willing to do absolutely anything at all in order to promote his prurient interest,” the judge said.

Williams said the thing he found “most troubling” was the “eerie calm” Nunez displayed during the six hours of police interrogation about the death of Thomas Kolman, who Nunez claimed was his best friend.

“What struck this court … was how eerily calm you were through this interview,” the judge said to Nunez. “That eerie calm will never leave me.”

Nunez was charged with second-degree murder in October 2015 for Thomas Kolman’s November 2011 death. Prosecutors alleged the dentist killed the 44-year-old man by lacing a cup of coffee with a medical sedative so that Nunez could have Linda Kolman to himself.

The defense in the murder trial said Nunez had nothing to do with the death and that it could have been the result of a heart problem.

Nunez was freed from the Ulster County Jail on $1 million bail shortly after his murder arrest, but he was returned to the jail after his November conviction in the pistol permit case to await sentencing.

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I just hired someone and then got notice that their wages are garnished. Should I fire them?

We recently got this question from a consultant friend of ours:

“I have a question as I have a client that recently hired somebody and shortly after she started he got a request for garnishing her wages to pay off $3,200.00.

“He’s not sure how to handle this and even if he should keep the team member. What would be your recommendations? It has set off the red flags for him, and I am not sure how to handle this or what to recommend.

“Thank you in advance for your help.”

This was our answer:

It isn’t necessarily an issue but requires a bit more investigation.

Garnishees can come from a lot of different things — unpaid parking tickets might be an example of something causing a garnishee where there might not be an employment implication.  It could also be a financial dispute with an ex-spouse.  It could also be an unpaid fine for a criminal conviction, which is obviously more concerning.

It is important for the dentist to understand WHY the employee’s wages are being seized, so he or she needs to dig into this, and ultimately make a decision about whether this person represents an unacceptable level of risk to the practice.

Of course, it isn’t a good idea to take the employee’s word for what happened; your client should ask to see the paperwork.

Also, it’s a good time to consider whether the background checking that was done when this person was hired was sufficient.  Were former employers contacted?  Was the applicant tested for drug use?  Some information on checking backgrounds when hiring is here —  If screening done at the time of hiring was lax (and it often is), now is a good time to complete the background checking that should have been done before this person was hired.

Clearly, the garnishee means that the employee is in a precarious financial position — obviously, they don’t have $3,200 available to settle this debt. If this person is a single mom living in a rented apartment, I fully expect there to be financial issues.  However, if this person drives an SUV and lives in an expensive house, the fact that they don’t have $3,200 would really concern me.

I’m happy to speak with your client if he or she wants to discuss further.

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to

Prosperident Investigator Kelly Paxton interviewed on “Pink Collar Crime”


Prosperident Senior Examiner Kelly Paxton is one of the world’s most renowned experts on “Pink Collar Crime,”embezzlement committed by lower level employees in organizations.

She was recently interviewed on this phenomenon.  Check out the video below, and for more background information, check out the full story at

Kelly’s bio page is here —

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to

Fifteen charged in Northampton County PA illegal prescription/heroin ring