What started as a single physical therapy medical center in Poulsbo in 1979 is now a chain of centers throughout Kitsap County, as dedicated as ever to helping their patients get and stay well, according to Kitsap Physical Therapy’s Marketing Director Stephanie Smith.
Smith, who also manages the fitness centers in Kingston and Silverdale, two of the seven locations of Kitsap Physical Therapy (KPT), said the company’s goal “is to work with our patients and members of our gym as well to keep them on a lifelong path of health and wellness rather than fix them and turn them back out to get injured again.”
Physical therapy used to consist mostly of heating, massages and “little tidbits of exercises,” but now has grown to include many different specialties that uses “a lot more medical screening to figure out what’s going on with people,” said Steve Goldrick, a physical therapist who works for KPT. He also is a partner in the private practice, one of the few physical therapy businesses owned entirely by physical therapists.
“It’s something that you can’t find really anywhere else,” said Goldrick. “There’s not a lot of physical therapists that are partners in a physical therapy practice, and so the opportunity to do that in our company is something that really sets us apart as a practice.”
Goldrick says there are risks and rewards to being a “business practice owner,” but all the partners in KPT have a greater stake in seeing their business succeed because of it. It helps, too, that many of the owners are from the area, according to Goldrick.
“I’m a hometown boy,” he said. “I grew up here, I graduated from CK High School, I went off, got my degrees and came back and became a partner. And so I have important ties to the community in the sense that I want to serve our community in the best way we can, and a lot of the other partners are that way. We grew up here, we live here.”
With more than 30 physical therapists on staff and 16 partners in the business, there is a lot of room to expand the KPT brand.
“We’re an orthopedic private practice, so we tend to see a lot of orthopedic injuries,” Goldrick said. “Knee pain, back pain, neck pain, etc. But within that, we also have niche specialties to serve those special populations of patients.”
There are many physical therapy specialties at KPT, but one of the main focuses of the company is occupational medicine, something that Goldrick specializes in.
“I work with injured workers a lot,” he said. “I make sure they are able to go back to their prior job and meet the job demands.”
Goldrick says that to help injured workers, he tries to “simulate movement patterns they’re going to have to do when they go back to work,” and before he discharges them, he tests them to make sure their bodies can handle the demand of their jobs.
KPT participates in a Work Conditioning Program, which is something injured workers can participate in if, after going through initial physical therapy, they’re not 100 percent ready to go back to work.
“They tend to have an occupational medicine physician, they tend to have a claims manager and then potentially a vocational rehab counselor,” said Goldrick. “And that team, including the physical therapist, makes (a determination) of whether or not they would benefit from work conditioning and then they get referred in to a physical therapy clinic and do it. That’s one of our niche specialties — conditioning and training the injured worker.”
Goldrick also visits local companies to give educational talks about body mechanics and injury prevention.
“That’s something that I’m trying to really elevate because I believe that wellness is linked to education,” he said. KPT also holds Wellness Talks for the community to educate on different topics to help improve general health and wellness.
“There’s not a lot of practices out there that are doing community talks to try to educate the public,” he said. “That’s really where we go the extra mile to try and make sure that people are well. It’s not just ‘thank you for your care, see you later,’ it’s ‘we want you to do well in your daily life and your sports habits and your hobbies.’”
KPT helps the community in more ways than just educational talks, though. According to Smith, KPT started a program this past year to donate 50 cents to the local food banks per visit for each person who finishes their round of therapy at KPT.
“We donate in the name of the patient,” Smith said. “Unless they want to remain anonymous. Then we just donate as KPT.”
The physical therapy group also has its hand in sports medicine, and they try to work closely with local teams and coaches about injury prevention and how to deal with on-field injuries, according to Smith.
And the company has started what they call a Bumps and Bruises Clinic for children who don’t have immediate access to a trainer.
“They can come in and see one of our therapists, get their sports injury looked at, and get a little bit of treatment and education,” he said. “That’s something that we do for free to just make sure that youth athletes in our area are getting the care that they need and the access to health care providers to make sure that they’re able to play their sports well,” he said.
Another way the private practice shows its dedication to its patients is to make sure everyone is seen as quickly as possible.
When patients are referred to their clinics, their policy is to get them in for their first session within 48 hours.
“And that means for me if I stay longer or I work on my lunch time to get patients in, I do it because that’s what I signed up for,” he said.
“I signed up to help people and I think going the extra mile to offer free injury screening, doing educational talks, getting people in quickly, getting them educated, getting them well, and then giving them an outlet such as a gym facility to continue with is really what it takes and we have all those things down as a company.”