A New Practice Gets Its Footing

BY Lisa Wells and Rick Deming | PHOTO BY Mitchell Goldstein And Lisa Wells

For Dr. Niki Fallah, 2016 and 2017 have been the culmination of tragic loss and eventual healing and joy. It was Dr. Fallah’s father’s dream and dying wish that she establish her own practice and follow in her parents’ footsteps of business ownership. Although Dr. Fallah’s father located the eventual practice site, he passed away before ground was broken. Dr. Fallah struggled with her decision to move forward, but honoring his wishes and legacy became her driving force. In April of 2016 in Millbrae, California, Mills-Peninsula Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics was born.

It is a spectacular, timeless, and inviting environment of glass, stainless steel, and curves throughout, melded with calming effects of wall murals of colorful poppies and photos of blue skies and wispy clouds on the ceiling. A plush-covered mushroom patch is in the middle of the open bay for the younger kids to sit and climb on. It is a masterful design and environment for kids of all ages.
Dr. Fallah is a San Francisco Bay Area native. Her parents founded Mills Montessori School, a 200-student school that has been in operation for decades. Dr. Fallah graduated from University of California (Berkeley) for undergrad, USC Dental School, and completed her residency in 2014 at UCSF. She also teaches at the Pediatric Department at UCSF and UOP.

Dr. Fallah grew up around dentists, including her cousin and his wife, Dr. Shawn Taheri and Dr. Roya Naderi, who completed their San Jose office in 2016 with Lisa Wells (Equipment Specialist) and Burkhart, after a fire had decimated their previous office.

Motivation
“I went into dentistry to provide health care while also being able to create a balance in my life,” said Dr. Fallah. “Pediatric dentistry was a passion that evolved once I realized how important it was to develop healthy oral habits, a process that was more likely to happen when patients are younger. I felt that it was important to create a positive experience for my young patients that would stay with them into adulthood. I knew I could make a difference.”

“My dad was the catalyst for opening my practice. He made my mom promise that I would finish honoring him by opening the office—a bitter sweet process. With the passing of my father, each day was a struggle, but with the support of friends and family, I was able to realize his dream.”

Inspiration
Dr. Fallah was “profoundly” inspired by Dr. Dorothy Pang, a pedodontist in San Francisco. “Dorothy Pang is the gold standard of pediatric dentistry. She was one of my instructors and became my mentor. Her 30 years of experience was invaluable to me. I have the utmost respect for her and always look to her. She was a huge influence.”

Dr. Pang had recently built her stunning office, also a Burkhart project, enlisting the renowned Dental Office Project Designer Mitchell Goldstein. Dr. Fallah knew she wanted to fashion her own practice similarly to Dr. Pang’s, including the combination of ortho and pedo that Dr. Pang and husband, Dr. Peter Lee, an orthodontist, had created in their adjoining offices. They helped Dr. Fallah with her plans to ensure there was a great flow, energy, and logic to her practice. “They took the plans home and made red marks all over them, and Mitchell was already in the engineering phase. I knew Dr. Pang would only do the right thing for me—and her changes were made to the plan.”

“Dr. Pang’s office was my inspiration. This was going to be a warm and inviting space where my team would be comfortable with a staff lounge, a spacious front desk area, and their own private bathroom. And, I knew this is how I wanted to spend the rest of my career.”

Team
Dr. Fallah chose “a team who worked extremely well together” including Mitchell Goldstein, Dental Office Project Designer (Design for Health), Eric Schmidt, Designer (Eric Schmidt Interiors), Paul Aboumrad (General Contractor), Silvio Karimi, IT Specialist (Lan Pros Communication) and Burkhart Dental (Lisa Wells, Equipment Specialist, Dave Gayner, Equipment Specialist, and Rick Deming, Account Manager). According to Dr. Fallah, “It was a collaborative process and the end result is an office that is warm, beautiful, and inviting for kids of all ages and their parents. The whole team was really great.”

According to Dr. Fallah, key players included her mom, Mitchell Goldstein, family members, Dr. Pang, and “you guys” (Burkhart). Dr. Fallah wanted to give special thanks to April Rosales (Office Manager), for helping bring her dream office into a reality; to her RDA’s (Maria, Mei, and Mona) who have been with her since the beginning, and helped set up the office; to Dr. Philip Yen for making her anesthesia cases seamless and successful; and, to her ortho team, Dr. Sona Bekmezian and Seerat Singh (RDA) for establishing and maintaining a fully functioning orthodontic practice within the office.

Office Layout & Design
“I knew Mitchell Goldstein (Design for Health) was the only architect I would work with. It was a time-consuming process with several visits to Mitchell’s office. He was extremely detailed and did not cut any corners. Mitchell respected the rules and policies of the city—and everything went smoothly.”

“Eric Schmidt, Designer (Eric Schmidt Interiors) provided great perspective and I chose all the finishes and colors for the final product.”

Tim Shadle, Burkhart Office Planner/Drafter, in collaboration with Lisa Wells, Equipment Specialist, provided all technical specifications for the dental equipment for the 2,500-sq. ft. space.

Construction Process
“Paul Aboumrad (General Contractor), is a well-run contractor and was a huge, huge component of the office. There was not one issue, not one problem.”

Equipment
Dr. Fallah visited two California Dental Association shows to narrow down her equipment choices, in conjunction with Lisa Wells and the Burkhart team. Check out the sidebar on the previous page for her specific equipment choices.

On her decision to go with a Vatech pan/ceph, Dr. Fallah stated, “I was not a follower. I made a decision that was right for me. Vatech is so user-friendly and Scott Jovich (Vatech Rep) makes himself available and is so helpful. And, the Nomad was a very good decision. The team is comfortable using it and it has worked out so well.”

Installation
Regarding the installation, Dr. Fallah said, “You guys have been awesome. Newton Fong (Lead Technician, Burkhart Dental) is great to work with and so patient. He would always call and leave me a voicemail of progress made. Every Burkhart Service Technician is very nice and very professional.”

Advice
When we asked Dr. Fallah if she had any advice for doctors opening their first practice, she said, “Take your time, do your homework, and be patient with the process. Make decisions slowly and in an organized way. Hire a good team, an experienced team, who has your best interest at heart. If you try and cut corners, you pay the price later.”

Conclusion
Since opening her practice in April, 2016, Dr. Fallah has had some incredible experiences, including her engagement to Dr. Amir Schricker, a specialized cardiologist, who lives in San Diego. Dr. Fallah’s fiancé secretly arranged for a professional paparazzi photographer to capture the marriage proposal on a park bench in Manhattan’s Central Park. A social media frenzy followed with one of the photos used as the jewelry store’s central advertising piece.

Dr. Fallah said it has been a wild year, personally and professionally—following a couple of painful years with the passing of her beloved father.

When asked what was on the horizon for her, she said, “Amir and I will have our wedding at the historic Bently Reserve in the Financial District of San Francisco. As a tribute to her mentor, Dorothy Pang, Dr. Fallah said, “I hired the ‘Dr. Pang’ of wedding planners.” And, in a spiritual sense, Dr. Fallah said of her fiancé, “My father sent him!”

The Tangibles and Intangibles of a Successful Office Design

By Russ Cornelius
Photos by Roger Hein

Prosper Dental Office

Good dental practices should be designed and developed with both tangible and intangible qualities in mind. Certainly, the best equipment, merchandise and ambiance are critical in delivering the best clinical care. Nevertheless, a true desire to serve and care for both client and patient, an unrelenting pursuit of knowledge and experience and a determination to deliver the highest quality care are equally detrimental to a successful office design. Prosper Dental Health in Prosper, Texas, offers a perfect example.

For eight years, Dr. Marisol Trautman lived in Prosper and dreamed of opening her own dental practice there. After being introduced to Dr. Bill Gerlach, they soon realized they shared the same vision and became business partners. Dr. Gerlach already had plans in the works, and both doctors even had the same location in mind. They consulted with Burkhart Account Manager Karen Glessner, who brought in Equipment Specialist Stephan Nugent and together put into action the plans for Prosper Dental Health.

Dr. Gerlach: My background in dentistry actually started way back in high school. I knew little about it—I had always been blessed with good oral health—but one of my counselors asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I didn’t really know. Play baseball perhaps? He linked me up with an orthodontist, I spent the day with him, and that was it. From there I went on to Northwestern University where they have a program in the engineering department for biomedical engineering that is a seven-year B.S. DDS—three years in undergrad and then four years in the dental program. I did the three years in undergrad, but then went on to Baylor Dental School where I met my wife, who is also a dentist. I started as an associate in 1987 and had my first office as a solo practitioner in 1990. I’ve been in many locations as the practice has grown, and along the way I enjoyed dentistry more and more as it was delivered in a comprehensive manner. To me, doing all the aspects of dentistry myself, in my office, was a disservice to my patients. I felt the best thing I could do for my patients was to focus on preventative and restorative care and let the other talented specialists in the area do what they do. For the last 15 years, we’ve worked entirely in a comprehensive model.

Dr. Trautman: Unlike Dr. Gerlach, I had to go to the dentist a lot growing up. My first visit was at four years old, in Costa Rica where I was born and raised. My pediatric dentist was wonderful. So I decided at four that I was going to be a dentist. I saw him a lot and he started showing me his interesting cases through the years. When the time came to choose what to do, it was very easy for me. Costa Rica is very different from here, because even though it’s a seven- to eight-year program, you are attached to the dental school the whole time. You are taking dental anatomy in year one. I graduated in 1991 and in Costa Rica you have to work for the government for a year. You can either go to the hospital to see adults, or you go with the Ministry of Health and work on a mobile unit serving school-age children, which is what I did for a year. But, at the same time, we opened a dental office of our own—so we worked from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with the children and 4:30 to 9 p.m. in a private office. We did that because we wanted to come to the United States. At the same time, I wanted to learn more. So I sent off a bunch of applications and planned a trip. I went to the schools the day after the applications were received and met with them and was lucky enough to get in at Ohio State University. I had four cousins there at the time, and it was a lot of fun having family in town. I graduated from there in 1997, but I couldn’t work in the U.S. However, I could teach, so I applied for teaching jobs. I got into Baylor as a teacher in the AEGD program. The timing was great because they were going through accreditation, and having a specialist in prosthodontics was really great for them. I knocked on the door at the right time.

Prosper Dental Office Design

After that my family and I went back to Costa Rica so I could start a practice from scratch. I wanted to be a multi-specialty practice so we had a periodontist, an orthodontist, an endodontist, a general dentist, and me. But I missed the States. I had become an American in those six years, and my kids were born here, so we sold the Costa Rica practice after four years. That practice is now one of the biggest practices for dental tourism in Costa Rica. We came back to the U.S. in 2004 and I took a break from dentistry that was supposed to last two years, but it turned into four. During that time I had my third son, and I loved being a stay-at-home mom for a while. I got back into dentistry in 2008, and by 2014 I had decided I wanted my own practice again.

Before Dr. Trautman and Dr. Gerlach had even met, Dr. Gerlach was working on a business plan to replicate the success he had at another location. The key tenets were to have a high-quality practitioner and practice in an area with a high potential for quality referrals. The city of Prosper fit the bill for a location due to the high-quality specialists in the area and the potential for growth. Dr. Gerlach decided the area had room for high-quality restorative care that utilizes the highly trained specialists nearby. Those specialists agreed. The business plan was complete except for the dentist. That all changed when Dr. Gerlach was introduced to Dr. Trautman through a transition specialist.

Dr. Trautman had already lived in Prosper for eight years, and happened to be looking for a practice to buy into. It was a perfect fit for the plan Dr. Gerlach had put together. “From the initial meeting with Dr. Trautman, it has all been water flowing downhill. This was really meant to be.”

The fact that Dr. Trautman was from Prosper has been very important to their success. The connections she had made as a person, not a dentist, proved invaluable. Some advice they had been given was to “make sure you are in the parade.” So, they did just that. Literally. Before the practice was even open, they created a float and joined the homecoming parade.

Now that the final piece was in place, plans for the new practice were ready to move forward. Dr. Gerlach had a relationship with Burkhart account manager Karen Glessner for several years, so they turned to the Burkhart team for office design and equipment selection. Equipment Specialist Stephan Nugent guided Dr. Trautman through the selection process and consulted with her regarding her options. Together they spent time at the Burkhart office looking at chairs and cabinetry. Ultimately, they decided on A-dec for their core equipment. A team approach involving both doctors and the entire Burkhart team made for a smooth process.

Prosper Dental Staff

Once the practice was built, the perfect team was put together. The goal was to create a team that allows patients to become familiar with the staff and have a relationship with them as well. Isabelle moved over from another practice to become the dental assistant. The hygienist, Tammy, is the daughter of one of Dr. Trautman’s former patients. Tracey, the office manager, actually approached them about joining the team after working on their website for them. It is evident that the family approach has paid off. The team works in perfect harmony and the future looks bright for Prosper Dental Health. The relationship-building, family-style approach is a perfect fit for the local community— and for a prosperous future as well.

Click here to see the original article.

Remodel + Redesign = Positivity

By Elaine Dunn
Photos by Steve Tague

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While attending college at Indiana University, Brad Handick began thinking about which direction his career would take. He knew that he wanted to be in healthcare, as a physician or a dentist, and was considering whether to enroll in dental or medical school. He did some research and talked to doctors of both professions. After talking with them, his impression was that the dentists he talked with were really happy with their chosen profession and seemed to truly enjoy what they were doing. He was intrigued with the entrepreneurial aspects of small business ownership as well so he chose dental school.

After graduating from Indiana University School of Dentistry in 1995, Dr. Handick practiced for three years in Indianapolis as an associate in a busy general dentistry practice. He was planning to buy into this practice until he and his wife made a trip out to Portland, Oregon, to visit his sister. It was their first visit to the Northwest, and they were immediately impressed with the beauty of the region.

After a few visits to the Portland area, Dr. Handick started seriously considering a total change in plans. Looking back, it seems to him like so much could have gone wrong with this rather impulsive decision. But he and his wife could not be more pleased with how it all worked out. In 1998, he found a practice to purchase in Garden Home from a dentist who had been practicing at that location for 25 years. He practiced in the existing structure for 15 years before finally having the opportunity to purchase the land and building. Then he thought maybe a small remodel was in order.

Dr. Handick gives a lot of credit to his Account Manager, Nancy Knot, who persuaded him to think on a larger scale. He purchased the property in 2013, about a year before he met with the Burkhart team to discuss plans for a remodel. His original intention was to repaint the building , do some landscape work and replace the carpet. Nancy encouraged him to consider that the timing might be right to make a bigger investment in the practice. She introduced Dr. Handick to the Burkhart Equipment Specialist and together they shared a vision of what they felt the office could be. They shared some drawings and floor plans as well as sketches of what the outside could look like. It wasn’t until this collaboration that Dr. Handick realized this building could become so much more than what he’d imagined.

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Another key member of the team was Pat Flora of Flora Designs. She developed the sketches for the façade and for the interior design. Before the remodel, people in the community were always telling Dr. Handick that they had driven by for years and never known there was a dental practice there. Pat also helped with the new signage which really made an impact and increased the visibility of the practice.

Dr. Handick was more personally involved with how he wanted the layout to be on
the inside. He knew he didn’t like how the existing operatories had only one doorway into each operatory, which made access cumbersome. Burkhart incorporated two entry points into each operatory. They also suggested he move the sterilization room from the back of the building to the center for a better work flow.

As part of the research process they asked him questions such as; “Have you ever thought about a continental delivery system?” or “Have you ever thought about changing the position of your computer monitors?” Although he was somewhat uncertain about changing his delivery system at first, the Burkhart team arranged for Dr. Handick to visit the A-dec facility to see the continental delivery set up for himself before making any decisions. As a result, Dr. Handick decided to change to the continental delivery system. He said it took a couple of weeks to adapt, but he knew right away this was a better setup as he noticed important benefits such as less back fatigue. Not only did the new system make the workday go more smoothly, it kept him from constantly twisting and reaching for the hand piece and instruments.

The existing chairs were fairly new so they stayed, but Dr. Handick purchased all new delivery systems, lighting, cabinetry, new overhead lights, an A-dec sterilization center and an ultrasonic sterilizer. Dr. Handick credits his Account Manager, Nancy, and the A dec people for helping him prioritize purchases so that he would remain within budget. The practice is now wired, plumbed and prepared to easily add new equipment or technology in the future.

For the construction work, they partnered with BnK Construction. Dr. Handick praised the owner, Rick Shandy, and the onsite manager, John McDowell, who did a great job of keeping everyone on schedule. They stayed within both budget and timeline. In Dr. Handick’s words, “They were fabulous.”

The practice did not shut down one single day during the duration of the project (about six months). The construction crews came in and basically cut the office in half. They would gut one side, redo the electrical, plumbing and drywall and install new cabinets and dental equipment. All the while, Dr. Handick and his team were working on the other side of a plastic wall. It required a lot of shuffling around of computers, front office equipment and phone lines. Dr. Handick and his team were always able to come in and complete a full workday. He says of his team during the remodel; “They were fantastic, flexible and came at the project with a great attitude!”

When describing the equipment installation process, Dr. Handick told how Dave Cronan from Burkhart really spearheaded the project. He said Dave was creative, came up with solutions, and always found a way to make it work. He kept things on track and understood that by 8 a.m. all equipment needed to be up and running.

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Originally, Dr. Handick didn’t have a vision for what the practice could be. Now he has more pride in the facility. He admits prior to the remodel, he was a little self-conscious that the space wasn’t quite what he wanted it to be, but he didn’t know what to do about it. One day, he was with a patient and she said, “Your old building didn’t really look like you. Your new space looks like you and the type of practice you have.” Dr. Handick likes the fact his existing patients appreciate the changes.

When considering what advice he would give to a doctor who may be considering a new office remodel, Dr. Handick thinks he was perhaps too conservative and reluctant to invest a fair amount of money into the space. He would encourage them to talk with their accountants, review their cash flow and develop a realistic budget. If the numbers add up then investing in your practice can have immediate and tangible benefits in terms of new patients and overall nicer work environment. He also recommends that while planning the project, also consider potential enhancements or equipment that could be prepared for but saved for a later purchase, thereby keeping the project within budget.

In addition to receiving positive feedback from his existing patients, the new façade and signage have helped to attract new patients to the practice. This has given Dr. Handick and his team the opportunity to connect with new patients within the community who may be looking for a new dentist. The aim at Garden Home Dental is to get to know each patient well and earn their trust. Our goal is to provide the best dental treatment we can in caring and calm environment. “We are so fortunate to have many wonderful patients who we look forward to taking care of for years to come.”

Click here to see the original article.

Burkhart Las Vegas: The New Branch is Finally done!!

The Burkhart Las Vegas branch is finally done!! Here are some pics of the office:

Here is a picture of our new break room (don’t let the chairs fool you, it was just for show)

Equipment Specialist office and the Sales office:

Branch Managers office and another view of the entrance:

and finally, the construction of our Conference table and the finished conference table with April and Alexa on a conference call:

The Burkhart Las Vegas team is excited about this new facility and we’re looking forward to the future of Burkhart in our local market.  If anyone is Las Vegas anytime, please feel free to stop by and check out this brand new office.  We are also having a Grand Opening Party on Aug. 17th from 1100am – 300pm.  Here is the invite flyer:

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Please feel free to stop by if you are in the neighborhood.  Great things happening in Vegas!!  Watch out!

-Simon

New Las Vegas Branch – Update July 6th 2012

I am proud to report that TI is coming in slightly ahead of schedule!  Visiting the new office, it should be completed by next week.  The excitement is building as we prepare to move to our new location.  Check out the entrance  **CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO GET THE FULL PANO VIEW**

Here are some shots of the buildout

Conference Room

New Kitchen

Warehouse and Tech Work Station

The floors should be done by next week.  Stay tuned for the final unveiling of the new Las Vegas Branch office.

-Simon

New Branch Las Vegas Update- Wed. June 27th 2012

The construction of our new branch in Las Vegas is coming as planned.  If all goes well, we should be able to hit our move-in date of July 19th/20th.  Keeping our fingers crossed.  Here are some recent pics of the construction:

 

Until next week’s update.  I hope everyone is having an amazing Summer!

 

-Simon

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