An interview with P.J. Gillard, Vice President Outpatient Therapy
Author John Steinbeck once observed, “For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance... Texas has a tight cohesiveness.” That’s certainly true across the Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) network where outpatient therapy plays an integral role in the continuity and continuum of care and services.
P.J. Gillard, P.T., vice president, outpatient services, BSWIR, recently spoke with Perspectives about how his division maintained its growth trajectory in 2021.
Perspectives Editor (PE): What’s driving the expansion of BSWIR’s outpatient footprint across North and Central Texas?
P.J. Gillard (PJG): The simple answer is demand, although it’s a bit more complex than that. We gather input from patients and referrers, research population data and business development trends and explore viable locations based on a several key factors, from space size and accessibility to parking, traffic patterns and the like.
In 2021, we opened six new clinics in Aledo, Argyle, Aubrey, Georgetown SE, Denton Mayhill and Roanoke, giving us a total of 107 locations across north and central Texas. Two additional clinics are scheduled to open in early 2022 and more are in the pipeline.
PE: A massive ice storm hit Texas last winter. How did you weather that and the ongoing COVID-19 surges?
PJG: The storm was unprecedented. For the first time, we were forced to close all our clinics for a week or more. Ice-covered roads were impassable, the power grid went down and sub-freezing temperatures caused pipes to burst, damaging a number of our clinics. But we rebounded pretty quickly, thanks to the hard work and collaboration of our clinical teams and the understanding and flexibility of our patients.
The same held true for our ability to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19. We continued to follow state and federal guidelines to ensure a safe care environment for our patients and staff and leveraged tele-rehab and other programs to best meet our patients’ therapy needs.
PE: What new programs have been introduced?
PJG: We are always looking for opportunities to expand our programs and services. I’m particularly excited about our Outpatient at Home program where we actually bring therapy to individuals who are unable to come to a clinic because of medical, transportation, work or family issues. Given its success in limited markets, we will be expanding across north and central Texas.
We’ve continued to address the often complex needs of COVID survivors, especially those with long-COVID through our highly specialized recovery and reconditioning program. Other initiatives include expanded speech therapy services, specialized pelvic health programs, and the introduction of new technologies. For example, our sports program is now using the dorsaVi, a lightweight, computer-based device that objectively measures range of motion, acceleration and muscle activity. By analyzing how a person moves in real-time, our clinicians can pinpoint where problems exist and provide a more accurate diagnosis and treatment options. Plus we have the capacity to bring the device to schools or team facilities, helping facilitate the safe return to action.
PE: Given BSWIR’s expansive market territory, having strong local ties is important. How do you build those relationships?
PJG: I’m really proud of the ties we have to our communities. Sure we work hard to meet their therapy needs, but we also seek to lend support in any way we can. For us, ‘giving back’ is more than just an expression; it’s a commitment.
For example, in recognition of the opening of our 100th clinic in 2020, we were about to launch our 100 Minutes of Service campaign, when COVID put that on hold. Delayed but not deterred, in 2021, we encouraged all of our employees to volunteer at least 100 minutes in service to their communities. The response was tremendous as people donated their time and energy at food banks, animal shelters, housing programs and other organizations, as well as picking up trash in parks and along waterways. It had a huge impact on everyone involved.
Another of our more meaningful programs is the annual Van-a-Claus. In 2021, we collected over 2,600 toys which were donated to local toy drives across north and central Texas. At one time, we delivered the toys in an old van (hence the program’s name) but now use our state-of-the-art mobile sports unit to spread holiday cheer.
PE: To what do you attribute the success of BSWIR Outpatient Therapy?
PJG: There are several reasons, but it all really comes down to people – our clinical and administrative teams whose expertise, compassion and support define the delivery of an exceptional rehab experience, our referrers and colleagues in this field who support our work, and perhaps above all, the patients and families who entrust us with their care.
In medical rehabilitation, we rely on research to provide that three-prong foundation that expands our understanding of injuries and diseases, fuels the exploration of novel avenues of treatment and translates to stronger patient outcomes.