Chuck Garfinkle, PT, MSPT, OCS, ART, CMT

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Chuch
Chuck Garfinkle, PT, MSPT, OCS, ART, CMT, joined Optimum Physical Therapy Associates in early 2008. He became partner in 2010 and formed the office in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he currently works. He can be reached at info@myoptimumpt.com.

Practice Name: Optimum Physical Therapy

Practice, Location: West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Size of practice (# of locations, employees): 2 locations, 15 employees

Years in practice: 16 years

What is the most important lesson you have learned in business? I wish I had some business experience before starting the practice. Fortunately, I was able to surround myself with knowledgeable business-minded people to help me through the process of opening and maintaining a business.

What is the best business resource you have found? My coworkers who have their MBAs, joining business networking groups, the local rotary club, and the chamber of commerce were all very helpful. Also, when I first started, SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) helped me organize my thoughts.

If you could start over, what would you do differently? I would definitely take some general business classes like accounting, marketing/sales, and how to use and apply social media.

What is the best way you keep a competitive edge? Over my career I have worked in different outpatient settings and found aspects I liked and didn’t like. Combining these experiences has enabled me to build a successful business. As a private company, we have freedom to direct patient care and the ability to look at more than just “the numbers” like bigger companies where they focus only on the bottom line. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard patients say that at another clinic they worked with a different therapist every session or only worked with aides and felt “just like a number.” We do not have to concern ourselves with the numbers game. We maintain an edge by ensuring our patients stay with their evaluating therapist from initial evaluation to discharge. Another way we maintain an edge is having “treatment niches.” We currently have therapists who specialize in throwing athletes; i.e., baseball and softball. We have a throwing lane and video capabilities to properly evaluate each thrower’s individual needs. We also have therapists who concentrate solely on spine rehab and foot/ankle rehab.

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Having been a recipient of physical therapy yourself, how has that experience shaped your decisions on how you run your business? It has been 11 years since my “experience” with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). It is funny, although GBS was one of my scariest and worst experiences, I can also say it was one of my best. I learned patience, perseverance, being thankful for all the things I have, and to appreciate friends and family. I can honestly say not a day has gone by where my experience has not entered my mind. Looking back, I think the biggest thing for me is showing patients that you care from the time they enter the facility to the time they leave. Listening to them, answering their questions, and explaining why you are doing certain exercises or manual therapy techniques are so important. I have found that in order to have success, patients need to be involved in their experience. We get a lot of complaints about the health care system, especially when patients go to their MD appointments. They constantly say their doctor only spent 5 minutes with them or didn’t answer any of their questions. They felt like they were inconveniencing the MDs.

What do private practitioners need to do to thrive in today’s competitive health care system? I think this is a good time for private practitioners. As hospitals and physician-owned practices continue to open physical therapy clinics, the same cycle of patient discontent will continue to occur. Patients will not get the individualized care a privately owned facility can offer. Private practitioners need to continue to provide individualized care to make them stand out from the large chain, hospital, and physician-owned practices.

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