West Hartford-based Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Centers has switched many of its clients to a telehealth treatment plan in order to limit exposure amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced businesses and industries across the state to look for new, innovative ways to continue to provide services. While hospitals and doctors’ offices remain open in anticipation of an influx of illness-related cases, other outpatient healthcare providers are grappling with the decision to continue providing care for those in need while keeping both patients and staff safe.
Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Centers (PTSMC), Connecticut’s largest private practice physical therapy group, is spearheading telehealth treatment in a number of its clinics, including in its West Hartford location, in an effort to continue offering care for their patients, many of whom are recovering from major operations or rehabbing severe pain or injury.
Tom Kassan, PTSMC West Hartford’s partner and director, knows that businesses need to move fast and get creative if they want to meet the needs of their clients – and healthcare is no different.
“We’re all trying to survive this new landscape while still providing vital care to those in need,” Kassan said. “Schools and businesses are adapting to the situation by turning to online platforms, so it’s important that we be proactive in adapting as well. By doing so, we’re helping to flatten the curve while continuing to treat our patients.”
Last week, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont ordered that all “non-essential” businesses in the state be closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Healthcare is one of the categories deemed “essential,” and so PTSMC clinics across the state remain open for patients who are in need of in-person treatment, including new patient evaluations and hands-on treatment when necessary.
Still, the company has taken a number of steps to mitigate the risk to patients and staff. This includes staggering visits to minimize the amount of people in the clinic at any given time, cleaning all surfaces between patients, implementing strict rules for clinic, staff and patient hand hygiene, and contacting all patients who are deemed “at-risk,” either because of age or other health issues, to advise them against coming into the clinic.
For those at-risk patients, and for those practicing “social distancing” who are uncomfortable visiting a clinic, telehealth offers an opportunity to continue a physical therapy program or stay connected with a clinician to continue to treat and improve their condition. The telehealth sessions with Kassan and his full-time clinician, Miguel Santiago, are one-on-one and include discussions about symptoms, guided exercises and stretches, advice for self-care at home, and continuing treatment options.
PTSMC Director of Marketing Peter Decoteau sees the company’s approach as a service to both their patients, and to the state’s healthcare system. “As always, we see ourselves as a valuable resource for people dealing with pain, and in this time we also want to be a valuable resource for doctors and hospitals who may be overwhelmed.,” he said. “Physical therapists are the musculoskeletal experts, so by remaining open and at the same time moving many of our patients to telehealth, we can ease the burden of musculoskeletal care off of the physicians and continue to help people.”
The platform PTSMC is using, Doxy.me, doesn’t require any downloads or login – just a simple link that will connect you with your therapist. The company sees this ease of use as an important factor in removing any barriers or obstacles to patients using this new platform and receiving they care they need.
Like many business owners across the state, Kassan became more and more uncertain about the future as the COVID-19 crisis rapidly escalated last week. Remaining in business is important, but even more so, he says, is being able to help his patients and others in the community who are dealing with pain.
The future now, as he sees it, includes a combination of in-clinic and telehealth treatment, with the latter potentially becoming more prevalent as the former becomes less tenable. “A lot of people are ‘socially distancing,’ but pain doesn’t socially distance – it can happen to anyone at any time. We want to continue to be here for you, in any way we can.”
You can learn more about PTSMC West Hartford at www.PTSMC.com/west-hartford
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