Hello Friends! On May 8 at Gaylord Hospital in Connecticut, a very informative, engaging and insightful panel discussion, “A Nu You: Your Clinical Team,” was shared Live on Facebook. The purpose of the panel discussion was to bring more clarity to the entire clinical process. This process can be overwhelming to both patients and their caregivers. We wanted to provide as much information as possible from a team of experts and answer questions from patients/customers and caregivers. As the moderator for the event, I can honestly say that the discussion achieved its goal, and I want to thank my panel of experts: Lori Vicker, Manager of Therapy Services at Gaylord Hospital, Jill Cacopardo, Physical Therapist at Gaylord Hospital, Toby Bergantino, ATP for Numotion and Stathis Hasiotis, a patient at Gaylord Hospital as well as a Numotion customer for over nine years.

The discussion began with Jill taking us through the clinical process at Gaylord, which is pretty standard for the process at other rehabilitation centers/hospitals. She explained that after receiving a referral from a patient’s doctor, an appointment is scheduled with the patient, vendor and the patient. “It is a 30-30-30 setup,” she shared. The first 30 minutes is focused on interviewing the patient and gathering as much information on what type of equipment is needed. The second 30 minutes involves getting the patient on a mat and testing out his/her range of motion (i.e., sitting posture, etc.). The last 30 minutes focuses on equipment simulation to see what may be best for the patient’s needs.

With over 92 years of experience among the four panelists, they discussed the team approach that they take with each patient/customer. Ensuring that the patient (and possibly his/her caretaker) is actively involved in the process is of utmost importance to the team to best understand the patient’s needs. With a new user, it is predominantly about educating and listening. The patient has never had this experience before, is given a whole new vocabulary and is trying to digest and process all of the information coming his/her way. The patient who has had his/her mobility disability for a number of years requires a lot of listening too because he/she has some knowledge as to what he/she needs. Still, the patient needs to be an active listener as well, and value the years of experience of the clinical team. 

When asked how patients can be the best advocates for themselves, Lori identified four key areas to address as patients. The first recommendation was to “know your insurance.” Even before you have your first session, read up on what your insurance will typically cover with regards to the basic equipment you know you need (e.g., wheelchair, cushion, etc.). Second, “establish a good relationship with your providers/team.” Feel comfortable. Third, part of being comfortable is achieved by “asking questions,” to get the answers you deserve. Lastly, she emphasized the importance of “communicating your needs.” Do not hold back in trying to attain that peace of mind.

Jill strongly recommended not “vendor or provider hoping,” which means going from one vendor/provider to another simply because you want something that is not being recommended. The team has your best interest in mind and even though you may really want something, it may not be the right time for you and something else may be much better suited for you. I added that it is always good to bring someone along with you, just to have another set of eyes and ears, based on the valuable information that is passed along to you. Stath, who has been a wheelchair user for over nine years, explained how inexperienced he was at the beginning of his journey and just listened. He quickly realized that every injury is different and everyone’s needs are different so he really did not do too much comparison with others. As he has grown older with his disability, he shared that with the changes in his body comes the need for new and different equipment, including a lighter cushion. Stath also shared a story about a recent trip to Iceland in which his chair never arrived, forcing him to use a wheelchair that you would normally see in a hospital. Still, he managed to take care of himself.

Collectively, the panel was very interested in new technology. Toby explained how he stays up-to-date on new technology from different classes that he takes, to Numotion webinars and attending various events throughout the year. Stath keeps updated through word of mouth, chat forums and support groups. Jill emphasized how changes are occurring so rapidly and the need to stay on top of all the latest advances in technology are so important. She appreciates how the manufacturing reps are constantly delivering in-services to her team.

The Facebook Live panel discussion concluded with each panelist being asked, “What type of positive change they would like to see in the future?” Stath said he, “would like to see the length of time reduced to receive equipment.” Jill echoed Stath’s comment by saying she, “would like to see insurance time reduced.” Toby supported both of those comments by sharing, “the process of approval time needs to be improved.” Lori concluded the discussion by agreeing with her fellow panelist by saying, “reducing time,” for the entire process, from start to finish.
Scott Chesney

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Scott Chesney

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