The Physical Medicine Department consists of five front office staff, two massage therapists (MT), ten Physical Therapists (PT), three Occupational Therapists (OT), one physical therapy assistant (PTA), and two Athletic Trainers (ATC). We also employee a significant number of PRN staff: five PT’s, three Speech Therapists (ST), one PTA, and two ATC’s. In total, the department has 34 staff members.
The front office is responsible for greeting our patients, registering, scheduling, calling patients, organizing charts, verifying and trouble shooting insurance questions, collecting co-pays, and collecting payments for other services such as massage and exercise classes. They also handle all phone calls assisting with general information, patient needs, appointment changes and answer billing questions. In addition, the front office staff also registers and schedules x-rays for the orthopedic clinic that is located next door to Physical Medicine.
The physical, occupational, and speech therapists are primarily responsible for treating patients in line with their particular discipline. They see inpatients and outpatients from neonate through geriatrics. Our therapists specialize in different areas, such as pediatrics, neurology, and orthopedics. Within those general areas, the therapists specialize even further. Some have received additional training that allows them to focus more on specific services such as sensory integration, orthotics, women’s health issues, aquatic therapy, ergonomics and occupational medicine, total joints, trigger point dry needling, Parkinsons, as well as special inpatient services working with stroke and vented patients. Their training is acquired through ongoing continuing education courses. We also have a physical therapist certified to teach yoga and pilates, who provides exercise classes onsite for employees, patients, and the community.
Our physical therapist assistants are responsible for department support services. They not only assist the therapist with inpatient and outpatient treatments, but are also responsible for seeing that supplies are ordered, linens are stocked, and equipment maintained. They are first in line for assisting front office and care provider staff and spend most of their day involved in general responsibilities and working with patients.
Our massage therapists work with the general public addressing patient and non-patient musculoskeletal issues. They also spend some time on the Inpatient floors offering massage to decrease pain and anxiety for our patients.
There are also two full-time Athletic Trainers working at local high schools. They are responsible for student athlete injury prevention and rehabilitation. They also teach a student athletic training class at the school.
Our customers are patients and family members, doctors and their staff, employees, and the community. We provide many additional services outside of the clinic, so our scope of services is not limited to care provided only within the walls of PVMC.
Since our department manages inpatients and outpatients, a typical day is sometimes like looking at two different departments. With regards to our outpatient services, most patients are scheduled in advance, so when our therapists arrive at work they find their schedule and charts on their desk. Knowing the schedule in advance allows for efficient, better patient care. We still write our daily notes, but our evaluations and progress notes are in an access database, so outpatient staff needs to be trained for documenting in multiple areas, including Soarian for times when they assist with the inpatient caseload. In inpatient, we assess our service provider workspace in Soarian as well as nursing census. We have a general idea of patients that require our services from this list. However, patients are not on a set schedule to see our staff. Many times the inpatient therapists make multiple attempts to see a patient as the patient’s day is often unpredictable. It takes close coordination and teamwork with nursing to get services provided for our inpatients.
In the outpatient area, schedules are very consistent, and the therapist has a maximum number of time slots to see patients each day, so the days are relatively predicable. Most evaluations are scheduled as one hour sessions, and most follow up visits are scheduled for 30 minute. In inpatient, the number of patients to be seen can fluctuate significantly from day to day. To help with this, we use our PTA and additional PTA help, as well as additional outpatient staff as needed. This requires our department to work together as a team. Each staff member is essential because without teamwork, we would not be able to provide the care our patients need as well as we do.
The Physical Medicine Department encompasses many disciplines, not just physical therapy and is always expanding, which requires the staff to keep up-to-date Many of our patients do not regularly see their physician, and we serve as their primary source of contact for health care information. At times we get very little information from the referring physician regarding a patient’s condition, and many times, we are the first care givers to recognize red flags or contraindications to treatment through our screening process. For these reasons, our therapists attend continuing education classes on a regular basis to ensure they are educated on the most current evidence supported practice. Any therapist that attends a class is then responsible for presenting the class information to the rest of the staff during one of our monthly inservices. This is an ongoing process, as evidence for best practice is always changing. The therapists have their documentation audited by co-workers on a regular basis and also undergo additional competency evaluation consisting of direct observation by their supervisor once a year to make sure a high standard of care is maintained for those we serve. We are patient advocates, and many of the staff here go above and beyond their regular responsibilities for their patients because they truly want what is best for them.
We are also involved in a number of programs throughout the hospital and community. The inpatient staff organized the safe patient handling program, lead out in the stroke recovery support group for our new stroke certification program, and have also initiated (with ICU) an early mobilization program for vented patients in ICU. For outpatients our physical therapists provide employee and community exercise classes onsite and at the new adult recreation center. Our pediatric therapists give free community screens for area children, with PT’s also providing employee ergonomic assessments and education, as well as body and balance screens at the 9 Health Fair. We have one staff member working to expand our occupational health program to the community and to local employers. In addition our director is working with Human Resources in overseeing HealthWISE, the new employee wellness and disease management program. Our physical therapists also provide free musculoskeletal screens at the annual high school sports physicals, a fundraiser for the high school athletic programs.
Our department is 100% female with 95% of our therapists having a masters or doctoral degree. Since 2008 the department has grown from a staff of 18 to 34 in 2012. At the recommendation of their physicians, due to the high standard of care received, we have patients that travel to see us from as far away as Greeley. Anyone can see a physical therapist directly for treatment and without a prescription in the state of Colorado. We support the local PT/OT/PTA programs by mentoring 6-8 students per year through clinical internships.
Some of the specialized treatments/skills we provide our patients include: manual therapy (mobilization and manipulation of joints and soft tissue), massage, trigger point dry needling, orthotic fitting, ergonomic assessments, functional capacity evaluations, incontinence and pelvic pain treatment, neurological rehabilitation, specialized pediatric care (orthopedic, developmental, and sensory), osteoarthritis/joint care and aquatic therapy programs.
Physical Medicine Staff:
Front Office: Sandy Vigil, Julie Averch, Nancy Sosa, Stephanie Marfil, Janell DeMint
Physical Therapists: Christine Buzzell, Kristi Campanella, Kim Edwards, Nicole Woods, Mary Beth Schoeninger, Dawn Kent, Jolyne Harrington, Marti Duquette, Karen Vizyak, Kim Braun, Tanice Kitchener, Becca Medina, Becky Wagnaar, Tonja Lallas, Julie Simpson, Emily Baker
Physical Therapist Assistants: Bernadette Ryan, Amber Ogden
Occupational Therapists: Renee Gross, Chasity Starman, Janalee Sexton
Speech Therapists: Carol Chadwick, Sandy Milway, Devon Jones
Massage Therapists: Tanya Kostman, Debbie Windholz
Athletic Trainers: Michelle Taylor, Leslie Tufano, Christopher Dovey, Gaye Beckman