Bariatric Psychosocial Group Provides Judgment Free Zone at Osborn

By Tory Lane, Bandera Therapy Resource – Arizona
Osborn Health and Rehabilitation in Scottsdale, AZ specializes in nursing and physical rehabilitation for bariatric patients. Tony Botelho, DOR and CTO, along with his amazing team of therapists have collaborated with nursing and other IDT members to create an effective and enjoyable rehabilitation program catered to the needs of this patient population at Osborn.

The pillar of the program is our weekly bariatric psychosocial group. We gather for direct peer to peer support in a “Safe Place” or “judgment free zone”. Group is focused on a holistic approach where we address relaxation techniques, flexibility and strength, goal setting, barrier identification and coping strategies for success. Through this program members have the benefit of asking questions and giving advice to those in similar situations, celebrating success with people who truly understand the gravity of their accomplishments and the socialization aspect that helps to remind them how wonderful it is to be out in the world and interact and enjoy others company.

In the words of Tony himself, “I have been so moved by the power of these program participants. These individuals, like many of us, have battled demons and traumas. Not always in healthy ways– often leading to things like oxygen dependency, inability to stand and walk, and a plethora of psychological and medical comorbidities. But, to see their mentalities change, their efforts increase day in and day out, and the sheer will to take back their lives is nothing short of inspiring. It is a reminder that no matter how far we fall, we can always work our way back up.”

Tony and his team celebrate their individual progress, and they are so humbled by their perseverance and determination. Thank you to Tony and his team, and their dedication to helping to make this program a success!

(photo caption: Tony Botelho, DOR and CTO and his amazing Bariatric Program Champions at Osborn)

Announcing Our Newest CTO in the Endura Market

By Maryann Bowles, Endura Therapy Resource – Colorado
I would like to announce our newest Chief Therapy Officer in the ENDURA Market………..(drum roll please) our Director of Rehabilitation of Colorado Springs, Raquel Weese, OTR/L!
Raquel (Rockie) has been with HCR since opening in 2016 and has been a founding member of HCR being one of the original employees. She was truly a leader since hire in 2016 and had a huge following because of her passion, integrity and her leadership skills. Rockie officially became DOR in April 2021.

The biggest positive change at HCR was when she took the DOR role 😊 She runs the busiest skilled therapy program in the Endura company and is incredibly efficient at doing so. She is the backbone of our therapy program and has been since the facility opened. Rockie has been an essential part of HCR accomplishing the financial goals & FLAG in 2022. She consistently participates in facility wide endeavors. One example of this is when she and her husband came in on a Saturday to help spread mulch to beautify the building! (Rockie is in the middle/purple top). (photo)

Additionally, with the number of Medicare and Managed Care patients we care for, normal processes don’t always work for HCR. Rockie has been instrumental in revamping our Weekly Medicare to meet the needs of the patients while not overwhelming the IDT team. She worked with the Compliance team to develop a new policy and procedure that checks all of the compliance boxes.

Rockie also helps keep our Worker’s Compensation claims to a minimum. She and her team regularly provide education to staff, but then she goes farther than that by meeting with nearly every employee involved in a workplace injury and helping provide direction and evaluation of any potential injury. She has helped keep several employees from going unnecessarily to a clinic for care.

Rockie has been an active part in our cluster and works closely with her PIKES PEAK Cluster. In Sept, Rockie represented Endura at the 2022 Therapy Leadership Summit in Sedona, AZ. She has done educations/ in-services such as the OT programming for Leisure Pursuits at our other buildings and assisted with acquisitions by training the new staff and helping the DOR’s during this time.

Rockie is not one who enjoys being in the spotlight- but she is proud and honored to be our newest CTO!

Pelvic Floor Outpatient Program Success

Submitted by Cara Koepsel, M.S. CCC-SLP, CTO, Keystone Therapy Resource – North Texas
This story was written and shared with me by our DOR and OTR, Stephanie Wentworth, at The Healthcare Resort of Plano in Keystone North:

“I wanted to share a success story specific to our outpatient pelvic floor rehab program. This story is taken from a letter written by the patient about her therapist and her experience with the training!

The patient was initially an inpatient at our facility after a back procedure last January. After her short inpatient stay where she regained her functional independence, she came back for outpatient PT and OT. One of her therapists is an OT assistant who recently completed a pelvic floor rehab course provided by Ensign in order to equip our therapists and grow this very necessary outpatient program.

She writes, I am deeply grateful for the expertise shown to me by my OT who specializes in incontinence training. When I began the program, I was experiencing significant urological incontinence. Upon learning of my therapist’s certification/completion of incontinence training and pelvic floor rehab, she began working with me in this regard. She provided me with a form to log my episodes. In a short time, she developed a plan of care for me and diligently monitored the results of this training. She brought an awareness to me of what key identifiers I might note and then adjusted the training for maximum effect. I continued to log my experiences and gradually the overall pelvic and bladder training she brought to me came to fruition. The full effects of her training took approximately 6-8 weeks, and today I still maintain the effects and benefits of her professional care and appreciate the progress I have made with her guiding me along this journey of incontinence. To date I remain under her OT care.

This success story really highlights the improvement in the patient’s quality of life and the benefits of pelvic floor rehab for an issue that is often not discussed or shared. Pelvic floor rehab is one of our many outpatient programs that we provide and we have several therapists who were trained in the course. What an amazing letter from a patient to show the value of our CEU courses and LTC/OP programming in Keystone! “

Mark Woods Honored with the Natalie Blasczienski Award 2023

By: Jon Anderson, PT, Therapy Resource
It is with great pride and admiration that we announce the recipient of this year’s Natalie Blasczienski Award: Mark Woods. Mark was honored for this accomplishment at the Annual Therapy Leadership meeting and at a celebration held at his facility. This prestigious award, created in memory of the extraordinary Natalie Blasczienski, recognizes therapy leaders who exemplify the qualities that made Natalie such an incredible human being. Natalie’s unwavering dedication to helping others, her love for her family and friends, and her remarkable spirit continue to inspire us all.

Mark Woods, the Director of Rehabilitation (DOR) at Pleasant Valley Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Garland, Texas, has made a lasting impact on his team, the facility, and its residents. Through a rigorous nomination process, Therapy teams from across our affiliates shared countless stories of Mark’s unconditional love, unwavering dedication, and strong leadership, especially in times of adversity.

Mark’s morning inspirational texts, appreciation for his team’s growth, and weekend grilling sessions for PRN staff are just a few examples of how he consistently demonstrates his love and support for his team. His kind-hearted actions, such as providing a ride to a resident who would have otherwise missed church service, show his genuine compassion for the people he serves.

In his relatively short time as a DOR, Mark has already had a significant impact on his facility. By leading meetings focused on the question, “Would you send your loved one here?”, Mark has driven positive change and improvement in the resident experience. His commitment to education and professional development has resulted in the addition of 14 new full-time team members and the implementation of evidence-based programs that have improved quality measures.

Mark’s exceptional leadership was particularly evident during the Texas snow apocalypse, when he worked tirelessly at the facility, helping residents and cleaning up after multiple bursting pipes, or through his thoughtful support for a staff member facing the devastating loss of her child. These efforts further underscore his compassionate nature and unwavering dedication to his team.

We are thrilled to honor Mark Woods with the 2023 Natalie Blasczienski Award. His inspiring actions, devotion to his team, and embodiment of the qualities that made Natalie such a remarkable individual make him more than deserving of this prestigious recognition. Congratulations, Mark, and thank you for your continued dedication to enriching the lives of those around you.

Meet Camryn Cupp, Our Newest SPARC Winner!

Camryn is an OT student at Northern Arizona University with an expected graduation date of May 13, 2023. Read her winning essay below:
I have chosen the occupational therapist career path because of the skill set I have gained through real-life experiences. I was a junior in high school when I recognized an injustice in my school that was seemingly being dismissed by faculty and staff. Students with disabilities had little to no interaction with the typical student body on a daily basis. I took the necessary steps to make a change through speaking with administration and by sharing my vision of providing students with disabilities more natural opportunities for friendships, socialization, and popular high school experiences. Eventually, I was able to found a nationally recognized club that supported the aforementioned vision. This experience brought to light my ability to lead as well as to identify problems, suggest a course of action, implement that action, and then follow up.

As an occupational therapist, I will need to follow a very similar thought process each day. I have witnessed how occupational therapy adds quality of life through enhancing activities of daily living. I chose this career path and course of study because I know that I have valuable insights, experiences, and drive to make an impact on the lives of those I will serve. When I consider the skills that I have acquired, I feel confident that occupational therapy is the career to best exude those skills each day. Ultimately, my degree relates to my immediate goal of being a practicing occupational therapist. But my degree also will bridge the gap between where I came from and who I am. I grew up in the small rural town of Corryton, Tennessee. In this town, only 11 percent of residents hold bachelor’s degrees and less than 6 percent hold a graduate-level degree. I recognize the privilege I have to be pursuing a degree from where I come from.

As a young female, my goal is to one day encourage young girls to pursue big dreams and open up my own clinic in an underserved area. I am passionate about occupational therapy and social justice and want to dedicate my life to advocating for a more equitable society. My ideas for sparking non-traditional, emerging practice areas of occupational therapy in rural communities are endless, but I do have one main theme and vision if I had freedom from corporate limitations. There is very limited research regarding the experiences of occupational therapy practitioners working in rural areas of the United States. There is even less research on the people needing occupational therapy services in rural communities. Individuals living in rural areas have difficulty accessing services due to a shortage of practitioners and a lack of education as to what an occupational therapist could do for them.

The dream that I plan to make a reality one day is to open up a space for adolescents ages 12-18 of all abilities and then utilize occupational therapy to promote meaningful living for an age group that is often neglected in small towns. My main objective with occupational therapy for adolescents is to help them live satisfyingly full lives with as much independence as possible. This means helping to develop the life skills and techniques necessary for everyday self-care, emotional regulation, home management, and appropriate educational pursuits. This would be a group-based clinic that promotes leadership skills and helps develop and inspire the next generation to become more self-reliant and make decisions that spark change and allow for new ideas and growth. This clinic wouldn’t prioritize finances or financial gain but would place patient growth and quality of services first. We would adopt a holistic model and use OT theories such as PEOP (person, environment, occupation, places) and help cultivate a space of research, evidence, and the whole person. Additionally, I will contribute to the lack of research within rural communities for practitioners and people being served by occupational therapy.

The continuation of my personal learning will benefit my patients’ well-being because it will ensure that I utilize current, research-based interventions and techniques. Lifelong learning will result in optimal occupational therapy services and premier care provided by myself as a practitioner. The patient will benefit because when a new difficulty or challenge occurs, my passion for learning will cause me to research methods to address the need in a timely and safe manner. Expanding my knowledge will expand and increase my competency as a practitioner.

I am passionate about one day owning my own practice in a rural community much like the one in which I grew up. I want to provide resources and opportunities to the community I work and serve in. I know that as I pursue a career in occupational therapy and eventually become a practitioner, I will be contributing through research, innovations, and propelling the field of occupational therapy forward by teaching the rising generations. As a future occupational therapist I will provide leadership, consistency, reliability, and positivity. I am eager to learn and poised to make a difference in the lives of those I come across. I have lived a life that has provided me with extremely valuable experiences. Those experiences have helped me recognize and expand my skill set. I am confident that the individual I have become will be an asset to my career in health care.

Congratulations to NCI’s Newest CTO

Submitted by Aimee Bhatia, Therapy Resource, NCI, California
Wervonn “Vonn” Malabanan has been the Director of Rehab at Camarillo Healthcare Center since July 1, 2021. Prior to that, he had been a dedicated and influential member of the therapy team and had participated in the DORiTO program, which allowed him to actively engage in many leadership tasks prior to moving into this role. Vonn has a heart of gold. He leads with a gentle toughness. He is warm and easily approachable and truly cares about his team, yet he leads with a directness and firmness that leaves no gray area.

Throughout his short time at Camarillo, he has already made his mark. He has grown the LTC programming in-house in an admirable way with solid documentation training and with amazing outcomes for the residents. the Part B MSCA results show just how strong this programming is in the facility. Productivity, despite multiple COVID outbreaks in his first year, has been one of the strongest in the market, and his purposeful use of G & C to foster success has been noteworthy. Vonn has also been a leader in the market in better management of managed care. He teamed up with his ED to truly ensure they provide therapy to the contract terms and has come up with creative ways of providing additional opportunities for engagement and progress for the residents.

Leadership development is another strength Vonn possesses. He has uplifted many of his therapy team members by giving them opportunities to grow — anything from encouraging student mentorship and working with IDT for care plan meetings to empowering the team to engage in leadership tasks throughout the day and allowing his teams to engage in decision-making.

Vonn has done an amazing job fostering relationships with many therapy schools across the country. It is not rare for the team to host five or six students at a time year-round. It is one of the most robust student programs I have seen anywhere. Even Vonn takes on students in order to avoid saying “no” to schools. The hiring Vonn has done in his time there has been top-notch as well, with a thorough interview process, team involvement in hiring, and good mentorship to ensure an easy transition for new-hires.

Not only have Vonn’s metrics been extremely solid, but his dedication to the building has been remarkable, too. Vonn has a deep love for the entire facility. He works with DSD and Nursing to provide training to CNAs upon hire and as needed to ensure proper body mechanics, safety, and knowledge in caring for their residents. He steps in with other department heads to fill in and assist wherever needed. . He actively participates in facility celebrations and activities, helping to foster a greater relationship between Therapy and the rest of the facility. He is also an extremely valued partner to his DON and ED. The amount of pride they take in what he brings to the facility is amazing to see. It is not often I have EDs and DONs reaching out to me to nominate their therapy leaders for CTO, and certainly not this early in a leadership role. Vonn has made a tremendous impact and truly has a great future in the facility and the organization as a whole.

Vonn has great ideas, he has amazing clinical skills, and the solid leadership he brings to his team has made a remarkable impact on the facility.

All That Jazz Brings Back Memories and Camaraderie

Submitted by Sarah Scott MS, CCC-SLP, Pointe Meadows Health and Rehabilitation, Lehi, UT
Micki Allred is a new addition to the ranks of Ensign Affiliate SLPs! She was a graduate student clinician at Pointe Meadows Health and Rehabilitation with a considerable aptitude for AAC and working with dementia patients. She accepted a position with Pointe Meadows and Provo Rehab and quickly became full time at Provo. Within her first month of full-time employment, Micki has been changing lives.

Pointe Meadows has a long-term resident, Jim, who has dementia and a history of CVA. Additionally, he has late-life loss of vision and became totally blind four years ago. Jim is a complex and dynamic personality with a lifetime of experiences. He raised five children as a single dad, ran his own business, played professionally as a jazz musician (drummer), and earned a black belt in martial arts.

Jim lived at an assisted living facility and declined in functional ability prior to admission to Pointe Meadows. At the time of admission, the patient spent the majority of his time in bed, resisted wheelchair and other activities, and stated, “I have no purpose.” He had a significantly reduced tolerance of ambient noise with hearing loss and demonstrated agitation in complex environments like the dining room.

Enter Micki. Micki earned a master’s degree in music prior to earning her master’s in communication disorders. She discovered through interview and personal history questions that JMicki’s husband, John (who is also a musician), and Jim have common connections. John’s friend Lars, who is a well-known bass player, played in a band with Jim in the 1960s. Micki went to work to create a meaningful group experience for Jim and many other residents and patients on speech therapy. John and Lars performed jazz music, demonstrating concepts Micki taught, including music dynamics (pianissimo, mezzo-forte, fortissimo), improvisation, melody, etc.

Notably, 30 residents and patients attended the group with rapt attention. Several “wanderers” engaged in the lesson/performance without loss of attention. The SLP team and graduate students circulated to facilitate participation and accuracy. Jim sat front and center for the 50-minute-long group, stayed to visit with other residents for an hour, and then ate lunch in the dining room. After lunch, he had plenty of energy and willingness to participate in OT.

Thank you, Micki, for bringing Jim and the Pointe Meadows crew “All That Jazz.”

Therapy Recruiting with Our Leaders

By Scott Hollander, Therapy Recruiting Resource
The therapy recruiting resource team wants to express how much we appreciate each of you who contributed and participated in therapy recruiting in 2022. This past year, we had the privilege of getting back in-person with students and veteran therapists in career fair and convention settings and professional healthcare networking mixers. Leaders being present at these events has been the best part of this return to in-person events. Many of you have had a career fair suitcase mailed to you and have been the sole representative in these efforts. Thank you!

Significant impact was made at ASHA and AOTA. At ASHA, we had three of our SLP master clinicians present, and it was great to see the therapy recruiting resources step back and watch Sarah Scott, Melissa Alexander, and Hannah Allen take the spotlight and share who we are as an organization and the impact that we are having on long-term care and post-acute rehab in the eyes of the world. At AOTA, it was great to have so many of our OTs and COTAs come to our booth and share with others how special it is to be a part of our organization. Stephanie Cole, Patty Fantauzzo, Joe Pergamo, Mira Waszak, TJ Petty, Sarah Boone, Martin Monarrez, Denny Davis, Jenny Farley and Lito Ortiz’s team have all helped with guest lectures at universities across the country. We have held healthcare professional networking events in Rhode Island, New York, Tennessee, Texas (Stephanie Winkler is the highlight of all of these in Texas), California, Washington, Utah, Arizona, and Nebraska and appreciate everyone who has contributed to these events.

We are privileged to work with so many great leaders and with such a unique and strong organization. We love and appreciate every one of you. We wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Workout to Win

By Mark Walker, PT, CEEE/DOR, Orem Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing, Orem, UT
Each week, our residents are asked if they want to participate in a home exercise program prescribed by the Therapy department. These are in-room exercises with handouts provided by one of our physical, occupational, or speech therapists. If a resident chooses to participate in the program, they are given a punch card that helps them and us track if they completed their daily exercises. When the full punch card is completed, it is then entered into a bimonthly drawing for one of our prizes (massage pillow, water bottle, cup holder, coloring pencils, coloring book, Orem Rehab swag, etc.)

Each raffle drawing is done in the gym every other week, and we are seeing the buzz getting around. Last week, we had 17 participants from our residents here at Orem. This isn’t a program run by the therapist, so there is no impact on productivity or efficiency. Our therapy aides run this, and it gives them a program to take ownership over. We are seeing some huge success as residents look forward to their daily workouts. The staff is helping the residents complete their workouts and are letting us know when they have done so. Each resident who enters a completed punch card into the raffle is given either a chip, a Gatorade, or a treat, so everyone is a winner bimonthly. The cost is minimal, and we are even starting to see staff/families donate prizes for the raffle. It’s a fun way to get our residents engaged in exercise and improve their quality of life.

Congratulations to Our Newest SPARC Winner!

Kelly Janak, PT Student, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
Graduation Date: August 2023

Read her winning Essay below:

Although health is typically viewed in a more physical sense, I have come to recognize and appreciate the more cognitive-emotional aspects as well. Many times, patients who have suffered an injury or are coping with life-changing diagnoses might experience a loss of control. One of the things that drew me to physical therapy is that it is a profession with the goal of empowering patients. Unlike other professions that beg patient cooperation while treatments are passively applied to the patient during the healing process, physical therapy teaches patients to heal themselves through a more active role. However, I have learned that without patient investment, physical therapy treatment is not as effective. Time engaged in therapy during the treatment session alone is not enough to provide a substantial impact. The patient must spend time training outside of the treatment sessions, otherwise the positive effect of physical therapy may grow stagnant. Without patient buy in and commitment, even the most ideal treatment plans will lack effectiveness. The patient must be motivated to take an active role in their health and to continue to train outside of appointments. Truly a large part of therapy involves establishing a therapeutic alliance with the patient and inspiring their engagement in the healing process. Although it’s undeniable that my education and training have expanded my knowledge and understanding of how to identify and treat patients with different diagnoses, it has also expanded my ability to motivate my patients, my understanding of how to relate to my patients, and willingness to seek the most effective treatments for each individual.

As I have learned more about the multitude of benefits that physical therapy can provide, I have gained a variety of reasons to support engagement in physical therapy. If a patient can understand the vast benefits of physical therapy, such as the improvements in health, functionality, longevity, and emotional well-being that exercise can provide, then they are much more likely to not only be driven to be engaged and compliant in their therapy experience, but also enjoy it and continue to exercise after discharge from physical therapy. It is also important to keep therapy exercises salient to the patient. Not everyone enjoys doing squats, bicep curls and abdominal crunches. For individuals who don’t enjoy these exercises, exercise can seem tedious and unappealing. But using creativity to create “non-conventional” exercises that appeals more to the patient’s personal interests can be more exciting. If the patient is doing treatment that directly relates to their hobbies, interests, and personal goals, they are much more likely to enjoy their experiences in physical therapy, which will make them more likely to do the work involved in order to accomplish the goals of their physical therapy program. For example, if the patient really enjoys gardening, they can be prescribed exercises pertaining to gardening so that the patient can be engaged in exercises that are meaningful to them and directly observe the correlation of their dedication to their treatments and their increased ability to engage in their activities that are important to them at a higher capability. I hope to provide a positive benefit to my patients in the form of helping them to see that their hard work can pay off in ways that are meaningful to their individual lives so that they can view exercise as something that is empowering rather than menial. I hope to not only improve their therapy experience but drive them to continue to lead a healthy lifestyle even after discharge as they strive for continued improvement in functional ability through motivation derived from things they love to do.

Patients will not be motivated by health care professionals that they do not trust. As part of the nature of the career, physical therapists spend much more time with patients than their counterparts from other health professions. This provides a substantial opportunity to either build a great therapeutic alliance, or tear it down. In pursuit of the first, I have learned that often the best way to establish patient trust is through understanding and openness. According to evidence, patients trust healthcare providers who they believe truly have the patient’s best interests at heart. However, in the hustle and bustle and time restraints of daily work life as a physical therapist, it can sometimes be difficult to take the time to establish an actual relationship with patients. In a career that specializes in people, it can become an unfortunate consequence to lose recognition of the sense of humanity that patients possess. But I think that if I continue to value each individual and recognize their inherent worth, I can maintain a recognition of the dignity that each human being possesses without losing sight of that in burnout. I will strive to always show compassion and patience and respect to each of my patients. Beyond that, I hope to continue to try to understand my patients on a deep level by trying to make a meaningful connection and by listening. My work with diverse populations has further affirmed the fact that every individual is unique and I can only know and understand each person and their needs by actively learning to understand them. I will also strive to maintain a personal sense of openness, honesty, and humility to further foster a healthy relationship. I hope that establishing authentic relationships with my patients will not only help them become more engaged in physical therapy and make the experience more enjoyable for them, but also encourage them to make more meaningful relationships with other individuals.

Lastly, and more obviously, it is important to seek out applicable current evidence-based practice and be in constant pursuit of personal growth within my role. Even with the best intentions, if I am not effective at my job, I will not be a very good physical therapist. Also, being an adept physical therapist can help with encourage patient investment in physical therapy. Patients will have a greater acceptance of physical therapy if they can witness the benefits that are provided from the treatments firsthand. Seeing as physical therapy is a relatively new profession which is constantly evolving, it is imperative to keep up with evidence-based practice by researching new treatment strategies that will be effective to implement in my patient population every day and to encourage co-workers to do the same. In order to best serve my patients, I recognize that it is my duty to be well-informed on effective treatment strategies that will benefit my patients and adjust my practices to develop alongside current research in order to ascertain that my treatments are effective for my patients. Along with this, I aspire to always be improving my clinical skills and knowledge. I will pursue increased proficiency in the realm of physical therapy so that I can develop into a professional who can provide the greatest benefit to my patients. I understand that they are trusting me to guide them towards better health and capability and I want to honor that by continuously improving my ability to deliver great service to my patients. I hope to become shrewder in identifying potential diagnoses and practices that might not be healthy for my patients and become more proficient on educating them on methods to improve their health. I hope to be successful in empowering them to lead a healthier life, even after they have finished with physical therapy so that they can be more free from the constraints and complications of poor health. By improving my knowledge and skills, I hope to effectively help them not only to return to their baseline health, but inspire them to continue to rise to a higher state of health so that they can enjoy their lives to a higher degree.
Through my devotion to patient motivation, relationship, and evidence-based practice and personal development, I hope to spark my patients to be empowered to take control of their own health, rather than maintain a passive role. I wish for them to be driven to lead a more healthy and full life in whatever capacity is available to them, so that they can enjoy the benefits in functionality, energy, emotion, and well-being. I hope to encourage them to see healthy living and improved function not as an unattainable goal or as undesirable work, but as a natural and enjoyable part of their everyday life.