Blessings and Collaboration During the Pandemic Storm
Strategies that helped one PPS member survive and thrive
By Eileen Rodri Carter, PT, DPT, MBA
There’s nothing quite like a crisis to bring a team together. Our collaborative physical therapy and occupational work family were introduced to the uncharted waters of the 2020-2021 pandemic and banded together to navigate the unknown.
As we close out the year, this story is a reflection not only of the success of that team, but also of lessons learned amid such a challenging time that we hope to share with other teams and practices.
A Strategic Reset
Our first step to meet the challenges was to have a management team meeting to review what our strategic plan would be as we faced the storm of the unknown. In order to meet the challenges and evolving changes with our approach to health care, our management team discussed how to communicate to our clients and work family regarding our plan for continued client care, utilization of our work family, and financial and marketing strategies.
Our next step was to meet with our work family to discuss and implement the following strategies:
- Education and training on CDC guidelines for the protection and prevention of COVID-19 in all settings
- Attended APTA/PPS webinars with daily review of CDC updates
- Networking with other colleagues and sharing of strategies
- PPP loan application and financial review for prevention of loss of our dedicated work family
- Evolving plan for limited use of accrued sick and vacation when there was reduction of visits, client referrals and revenue
- Preparation of possible application of furloughs or unemployment
- Training in telehealth services for all staff and education of our clients
A Focus on Support
We became a powerhouse of support for each other and our clients for all areas of work and we were able to meet the evolving daily and weekly challenges. Together, we made several key decisions focused on financial and resource conservation that helped the practice survive the choppy waters of uncertainty of the pandemic. These included:
- Closing clinics on Fridays for approximately three months due to decline
- Providing care via telehealth for clinic, home health, and school-based clients
- Holding weekly meetings with prayer and updates either face-to-face or virtual meetings
- Applying the Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan to payroll expenses to subsidize the loss of revenue
- Holding collaborative meetings with our bank to extend mortgage payments for three months without penalty
- Utilization of federal grant monies
- Hiring local college work staff for testing and monitoring of incoming clients and work family
- Holding weekly, sometimes daily, meetings for review of our budget, cost control measures, and finances while weathering the storm
We were able to plan ahead and weather the unknown challenges of:
- Having sufficient appropriate disinfecting supplies and paper goods
- Appropriate PPE supplies for the home and clinic
- Control of increase in costs with declining revenue
- Reduction of clients and fair scheduling for work family
- Telehealth scheduling and planning for school, clinic, and home health clients
- Clients’ confidence levels for continued care
We were humbled and blessed with the PPP loan. It allowed our work family to continue to dedicate their provision of care without having to worry about how to feed their family and pay their bills. We were able to weather the storm together without permanent damage. Our work family was agreeable and worked together to ensure that our strategic plan and marketing strategy were implemented. We marketed daily with either virtual or face-to-face care. We also marketed via social media, networking, and on our website to educate and advocate our services. We were also able to visit our referral sources as we were able to mask ourselves with a smile.
Our company together as one, has survived the major storms of the pandemic. We continue to meet the daily challenges, have collaborative daily, weekly, and monthly meetings to update and educate our work family on the prudent utilization of our financial resources, strategic scheduling, and provision of effective and safe client care. We have also been able to continue and increase marketing to our community and referral sources.
The blessings our company has gathered from weathering the pandemic storm also allowed our company to grow. We have been able to hire a talented speech therapist and another dedicated PTA to provide care for our increase in referrals. We have also been awarded two new contracts to serve our community.
We are “BETTER TOGETHER” and blessed to have survived the challenges presented during the pandemic using collaborative strategies and communication among our team, with our clients, and our community.
Eileen Rodri Carter, PT, DPT, MBA, is a PPS member and owner of Comprehensive of Wilson in North Carolina.