Hillcrest Physical Therapy here for clients during national pandemic

Improving and maintaining your health and wellness has always been extremely important, especially for vulnerable older adults. 

“At Hillcrest Physical Therapy, the safety of our clients is our top priority,” said Paul Gardner, Administrator. “And during this challenging time amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the need to get and stay healthy is doubly important for aging adults.” 

Hillcrest Physical Therapy offers a service that keeps individuals healthy and out of the hospital. Reducing traffic to hospitals is vital to public health right now. Hillcrest Physical Therapy can:

  • Provide services to decrease fall risk
  • Provide educational and exercise strategies to address pain, decreasing the need for painkillers and potential visits to the emergency room
  • Provide assessments of wounds
  • Ensure individuals recovering from injuries/surgeries heal in the right way to best contribute to public health (caring for family members, being able to care for themselves in an optimal manner)

Bill French, a Hillcrest Physical Therapy client, says it’s “very necessary” Hillcrest Physical Therapy remain open to serve clients during this time. Recovering from a back injury, he is currently working with the therapy team on improving balance as well as doing floor exercises to relieve pain and strengthen muscles.

“Some of that I could not do at home on my own,” French said. “I want to be able to walk further than I have been able to in the past. My goal is to be in better condition after this.”

 He says improving his health is crucial to be able to do necessary tasks, such as go to the grocery store. Over the last five years, French has visited Hillcrest Physical Therapy for issues related to his ankle, both knees and now his back.

“I prefer going to you guys [Hillcrest Physical Therapy],” he said. “I have seen a number of others, and I think you do a much better job. The people are nice and always have a smile on their faces.”

Hillcrest Physical Therapy has implemented some changes to help stop the spread of COVID-19. All team members are wearing masks, surfaces and exercise equipment are being cleaned more frequently and clients and team members are respecting the six-foot rule. Exercise equipment is spaced out, so clients aren’t in close proximity to others while using a machine. Per Sarpy County’s Directed Health Measure, massage therapy services have been suspended.

As one of the very few local rehab companies accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Hillcrest Physical Therapy is required to follow higher standards and take extra steps to ensure client safety, as demonstrated through an annual survey process, emergency preparedness protocols and more. Rest assured, the team has been prepared for this type of situation for a very long time.

“We are taking precautions to halt the spread of this virus, and also know the importance of our client’s need to follow through with physician-recommended therapies,” said Kathy Ramaekers, OT, GCS, CHT. “Therapy is often necessary to decrease a client’s risk of being re-hospitalized or declining physically, which would put them at a higher risk for falls, infections or other catastrophic conditions.”

Ramaekers is still working with a client now who has lymphedema. 

“It is extremely important for a therapist to have eyes on this client who has diabetes, an open wound and an extremely high risk of infection due to his lymphedema,” she explained. “This could be life threatening to him. We are taking the COVID-19 precautions seriously as we are helping this client to stay safe from infection and rehospitalization.”

Because of social distancing recommendations, many clients have been instructed on home programs to complete in their own homes.

“I have some clients though that continue to require the skills of a therapist to decrease their risk decline that could lead to further debility,” Ramaekers said. “This is necessary for our older adults because of their complex medical conditions and heightened risks with so many things that could hospitalize them.” 

Hillcrest Physical Therapy, located at 1804 Hillcrest Drive in Bellevue, is the region’s only free-standing outpatient therapy clinic offering physical, occupational speech and massage therapy in one location. Part of the Hillcrest Health Services family, Hillcrest Physical Therapy is open to appointments Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information, call (402) 682-4210 or visit hillcresthealth.com.