Dental Patients with Special Needs

FDA President Dr. Ralph Attanasi and Today’s FDA have partnered to bring you a special video to correspond with his column, “@ralph,” in each issue. The Sept/Oct issue focuses on special needs, and in the video below, Dr. Attanasi provides tips for preparing and caring for dental patients with special needs. We encourage our members to share your experiences with us by sending your story to communications@floridadental.org for potential future posts to Beyond the Bite.

The Special Needs Dental Patient from Florida Dental Association on Vimeo.

5 Best Practices to Enhance Your Practice Performance and Productivity

By Melvina MacDonald, Employee Assistance Program Director, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Inc.

“I feel like if I go on like this, I will get sick.”

“I can’t think, I am confused …”

“I have too much stress at home and work.”

“I need to go home, I can’t do this anymore.”

“I need help.”

These are statements made daily by employees seeking help through our Employee Assistance Program. As employee assistance and mental health professionals, we have been in a position to help employees cope with the multitude of competing priorities both at work and home.

Stress has become a common and costly problem in the American workforce. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress, with low salaries, lack of opportunities for advancement and heavy workloads topping the list of contributing factors (American Psychological Association 2013b). Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. employers $300 billion a year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees. Dental practices also struggle with these same employer challenges.

The American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence has identified psychologically healthy workplaces as a win-win both for both employers and employees. A psychologically healthy workplace fosters employee health and well-being while enhancing practice performance. The following are five evidence-based practices to support employers with improving their work environment:

  1. Employee Involvement: Look for ways to involve employees in decision making. Provide channels for open two-way communication.
  2. Health and Safety: Provide access to an employee assistance program and mental health and substance abuse services, prioritize safe practices and communicate concern for employee safety. Provide programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and the prevention and management of workplace stress.
  3. Employee Growth and Development: Provide skills training and leadership development; seek opportunities to provide avenues for career advancement.
  4. Work-life Balance: Consider personal and family needs; look for means to offer flexibility in work schedules. Offer flexible benefit plans.
  5. Employee Recognition: Develop a program for individual and team recognition.

By applying psychologically healthy workplace practices, any dental practice has the potential to activate all the resources of its workforce in meeting the mission of the practice.

“You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.”  ~ Renee West, Lexor and Excalibur Hotel

For further information about psychologically healthy workplaces and their successes, go to www.phwa.org, or for information regarding the Tallahassee Memorial Employee Assistance Program, go to www.tmh.org/eap.

5 Ways to Reduce Embezzlement Risk

By Julian Dozier, CPA, ABV, CFF, CFE, Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. CPAs​

You work hard in your practice, enjoy spending time with your patients, and do your best to manage your office staff and bookkeeping. While you’d rather be spending time on the medical side of your practice, you understand the importance of being involved in the business side of your practice. No one wants to think their employees would steal from their company, but every organization faces the risk. So, do you have a sound system of internal controls in place to mitigate the risk?

Here are five simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of employee embezzlement:

1. Conduct background checks. Your employees may have access to your financial information, bank accounts, prescription pads and expensive medical supplies. Be sure to conduct background checks before hiring any employee, and make it your policy to update those checks at least every two years for financial personnel.

2. Segregation of duties. Financial tasks should be assigned so that no single employee is responsible for authorizing transactions, maintaining custody of assets and resources, recording transactions and reconciling accounts. While it’s best for all four of those functions to be segregated, be sure no single employee is responsible for more than two of them. As an example, if an employee can authorize payments to vendors, they should not be authorized to add vendors to the accounting system, print and sign checks, or reconcile the bank account.

3. Oversight is important. The perception of detection can be as important as any other internal control your practice puts in place. If employees know their work is being checked, and that the bank accounts are being reconciled and verified, they are less likely to embezzle.

4. Know your bank account. For assets like cash that — when there are poor internal controls — can be embezzled quickly and easily concealed, you need to do more. Receive each monthly bank statement directly (unopened) and review it for unusual or unexpected activity. Ask questions. Know where your practice spends its money and who is authorizing those transactions. Quickly spotting unauthorized bank activity is critical to minimizing your risk of embezzlement.

5. Get outside help. Find a local certified public accountant (CPA) to conduct periodic checkups at your practice. Your CPA can help you design internal controls, implement best practices and conduct random checks to see that your employees are following approved policies and procedures.

Julian Dozier is a CPA with the accounting firm Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. He specializes in forensic audits and litigation support related to for-profit and governmental enterprises. His certifications and designations include Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF). For more information, please visit www.thf-cpa.com/what-we-do.

What to do When the Media Calls

By Moore Communications Group

Media attention is a valuable tool to garner free publicity and allow you to deliver your message to a large audience. However, an unexpected phone call from a reporter asking for a statement or an interview can be nerve-wracking. Don’t let it be — always look at a media request as an opportunity. So, what do you do when the media calls?

Here are five quick tips on handling a media call:

1. Be courteous.

Don’t view reporters as the enemy. Most are simply trying to do their job, get the story and package it for distribution. Always be professional and polite as every media call presents an opportunity to tell your story.

2. Be sure what you say is accurate.

If you are unsure of how to answer a question, it’s OK to say “I don’t know, but I’ll make sure I get you that information. What is your deadline?” Don’t rush to say the first thing that comes to your mind if you are caught off guard. Wrong information is more harmful than providing no information.

3. Be mindful if you’re the right person to respond.

If you’re uncomfortable providing a statement, we encourage you to reach out to the FDA for further assistance. The FDA along with its communications agency, Moore Communications Group, is happy to be a resource to both you and the inquiring media outlet. Simply ask for the reporter’s information, the deadline and let them know someone will be in touch with them shortly.

4. Be cognizant of deadlines.

Remember that media is often working on stories that will air or print within 24-48 hours of the request. If you do refer them to the FDA, don’t wait to pass along the information. Do so immediately so we can take advantage of the opportunity and respond within the deadline.

5. Use the FDA as your media resource.

The FDA and Moore Communications Group are here to serve as a resource whenever the media calls. Whether it’s coordinating a statement or helping you prepare for an interview, we are happy to help you deliver the best message possible.​

Remember, a request or call from a media outlet is a great thing! Above all, it’s an opportunity to share our message with the world around us. If you need assistance with a media request, please contact the FDA Director of Communications Jill Runyan at 850.350.7113 or jrunyan@floridadental.org.