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In search of excellence found: UT Medical Center Outpatient Rehabilitation Services

Nobody wants to hear these words: “The surgery is really, really painful, but the rehab is even worse.” And that is exactly what everyone was telling me this past spring when I had rotator cuff surgery caused by a college football injury plus a lifetime of active living.

When I came out of surgery, the doctor shared that this was the worst rotator cuff tear that he had seen during his 30 years of surgery, and he reminded me that rehab was going to be very, very challenging.

Dr. Clinton Longenecker, center, posed for a photo with Dr. Mike Travis and Deborah Rohloff.

So with this background, I walked in to the UT Medical Center Outpatient Rehabilitation Services in early summer with a certain level of apprehension and excitement to get started with my rehab to bring back the use of my right shoulder and arm.

Now as a business professor for the past 30 years who studies organizations for a living, I can state with great confidence that excellent organizations tend to be few and far between. Some of the characteristics of excellent enterprises include exceptional care and concern for clients/customers; the use of cutting-edge technology and best practices in delivering services; passionate and dedicated professionals; teamwork and a positive organizational culture; and a willingness to go the extra mile.

Well, based on my recent experience, I have to tell you that our UTMC Outpatient Rehabilitation Services is an excellent organization and demonstrates these attributes day in and day out in performing its invaluable mission of helping thousands of people heal and get healthy.

Several years ago, I had Marci Cancic-Frey, director of therapy services, as an MBA student, and I was always impressed with her passion and enthusiasm as she talked about the quality of our physical therapy services and the exceptional people that she works with. She always said, “Our people are truly dedicated to our patients in delivering exceptional PT services and helping people get well … I truly love my job.” So, needless to say, my expectations were very high going into this experience, and her organization did not disappoint.

When you walk in the door, you are warmly greeted by Sheila Burk or Lakisha Carter or Shannon Walker or Chantel Carter, and you sit in a very comfortable waiting room. The therapy staff is exceptionally punctual, and not one time in my 40 trips to therapy was my therapist ever late or running behind schedule, and they were always sensitive to my time. When your therapist approaches you to walk you back to therapy, you are always greeted with a smile and encouraging words, and their energy is contagious. Our physical therapists use a team-based approach to ensure an effective assessment, a best practices treatment plan that is known and understood by everyone (including me, the patient), and therapy sessions that are designed to help the patient learn, practice and master the necessary exercises to speed recovery. I was also very impressed with the fact that their goal is to schedule treatments in a time frame that was most convenient for me as the patient; this included thoughtful text message reminders of upcoming therapy sessions.

My therapy team included Dr. Mike Travis, physical therapist, and Deborah Rohloff, physical therapy assistant, with support from Alyssa Nino and Kayla Pickard, physical therapy assistants. Each of these professionals had a passion for their work, patient sensitivity, and a willingness to inspire me to push myself during our therapy sessions while at the same time encouraging me to do my exercise homework.

Travis shared his personal philosophy of physical therapy with me when he said, “It’s all about helping people do the things that are necessary to help them achieve good outcomes.” Rohloff shared a similar philosophy: “The best part of my job is seeing my patients achieve their goals and perform life activities that they were previously unable to perform.”

And as you look around the therapy room, you see this philosophy at every turn as our terrific UTMC therapists might be helping a high school athlete come back from a knee injury or a person with severe head trauma learn how to walk again and everything in between. These great professionals became friends as they help me in so many ways, and I’m thankful and proud to know that we are all part of this terrific institution.

I have to say that our UTMC Outpatient Rehabilitation Services, from this patient’s perspective, is simply excellent at the life-changing work that they perform every single day. A special thanks for helping me and countless others. Go UTMC Rockets!

Longenecker is a Distinguished University Professor and director of the Center for Leadership and Organizational Excellence in the College of Business and Innovation.