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Your Work Hardening Experience Has a Big Impact on Your Recovery

When a heavy-duty worker gets injured at work, it’s their livelihood at stake. And there’s just a little something special about an organization that gets that - I mean really gets it.

That is exactly the type of organization we know Metropolitan Occupational Therapy to be. From injury to settlement they really “get it.” They have a philosophy very similar to us here at Donahoe Kearney - they look at the full situation, treat the person as a person and not a number, and offer services that they don’t have to in order to make sure the injured worker gets better. Starting with free transportation, parking reimbursement, and reimbursement for public transportation. Who does that? MOT does.

If you’ve ever been injured at work and you are restricted from working for an extended amount of time,  you know exactly what it’s like. Suddenly, you are getting a full third of your pay cut. A full third. And if you have a serious injury and need surgery and extended recovery, how are you going to make that work? Even people who have money in savings have a difficult time with this - and MOT understands that.

Metropolitan Occupational Therapy Lives By Three Core Services

The three core services they live by are: Spanish Speaking, Transportation, and Work Hardening. For an injured worker who speaks Spanish, this translates into three things: 1). Someone who “gets” me; 2). Money saved; and 3). Getting back to work as soon as possible.

Though MOT specializes in Spanish-Speaking services (90 percent of their patients are Spanish-Speaking), their impressive facilities and staff will serve any injured worker and help them get back to work just as soon as possible. They offer a full range of physical and occupational therapy services, including a certified hand specialist and 8 hour a day work hardening treatment.  

I spoke with Christina Peterson, the business manager, who told  me about the special way they do business. Most front desk staff in a medical facility have a very difficult time dealing with workers’ compensation adjusters; especially getting treatment authorized and bills paid. MOT has a case management system that helps them to beat the insurance company at their own game. Being familiar with the tricks of the insurance company is 80% of the battle, and they know exactly how to handle slippery insurance adjusters. The result is really impressive - not only do they have a great record of getting treatment authorized, but they get incoming referrals for patients from insurance adjusters, nurse case managers, attorneys, etc. They are privately owned and not affiliated with any other groups, so they are able to treat each person without any consideration for how they were referred. Everyone gets treated as a full-spectrum, valued individual at MOT.

Has Your Workers Compensation Claim Been Denied? You May Still Be Able to Get Treatment

Here’s a fact that I found to be surprising and caused me to respect MOT even more: like us here at Donahoe Kearney, they take litigated cases. Which means no payment until the litigation is over.

“It can take us up to a year to get paid on a case,” Christina Peterson told me, with eyes sparkling with a little bit of irony. “Some litigated cases come from claims that are denied, some where the employer didn’t have insurance (working construction for a friend, brother, etc). We take those cases and do what it takes to get the bills paid. We rarely have to contact attorneys in order to get treatment authorized - we do that in house. And we do have a certain percentage of cases that we won’t get paid on - which is okay because our systems work so well and most of our cases are successful. We have a really high compliance rate because we offer transportation, which keeps our business running strong.

Those of us who are in the business understand that little twinkle of irony in Christina’s eye. We all know that if you keep plugging away and understand how to deal with the insurance company, eventually your persistence and competency is going to pay off for your client in big and small ways.

I could tell just from speaking with Christina for a few minutes that they have a deep passion for helping people at MOT. And they tend to work with others who want to similarly invest in people. One example was a  man who got attacked with a machete. They took his case, and worked with a surgeon to repair his hand injuries. That surgeon donated his time, and all that had to be paid was the bill for the use of the medical facilities, making the surgery in reach for this injured worker. She told me a few more stories like that - they have ways of making even the most dire cases workable.

One of the many things that makes MOT stand out is that they have a certified Physical Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist on staff: her name is Selene Quiroga. While a lot of hand specialists are occupational therapists, Selene is special. Since she is a physical therapist as well, she has the knowledge and the insight to treat the entire body when there is a hand injury.

Sucely, our long time friend and the account manager over at MOT, took me on a tour of their incredible facility. They have an expansive physical therapy space, private rooms for initial interviews and sensitive injury treatment, a state of the art “BTE” machine that takes data and spits it out for Functional Capacity Exams.

She also showed me their large, dedicated space for work hardening. Flora, the heart and soul of the work hardening program, has been doing her work for over twenty years and understands the specific and often nuanced needs for work hardening evaluation and treatment. She always starts with a functional capacity exam, and then evaluates the needs of the injured worker. Since Flora has been doing work hardening for so long, she can tell if an injured worker has been referred to work hardening too soon by an insurance doctor and she will push back on that. She also will see if an injured worker has the capacity to return to work, and she will push in that direction as well. 

Sucely took me around and showed me all of the tools that they use to get people back to work. They help them teach their nerves, muscles, and skeleton systems once again how to manage overhead lifting, using tools, fine motor skills applications like turning screws, and they even have a bed to help nurses get retrained on lifting patients, and hospitality workers get retrained on making beds. They have special protocols for people depending on their FCE evaluation - ranging from sedentary to very heavy duty work recovery.

Here I am learning how to climb a ladder! 

The Best Place to Go for Work Hardening in DC, MD, & VAAnd here’s something you don’t see every day - they offer “Free Lunch Fridays” for their patients who are in work hardening. I mean, who does that? MOT does.

I talked with Sucely about some of the emotional and psychological stresses that injured workers face when they are taken out of the work that supplies them with food and shelter. At MOT, there is a default social fabric that develops, especially in the work hardening program. People make friends here, and gain support that is required to make it through an injury that takes a heavy duty worker out of work. Workers compensation is an incredibly difficult system with a lot of stress baked in: I’m really glad that MOT offers a place injured workers can go where somebody gets them, is working hard to accommodate their special circumstances, and work hard to get them back to work as soon as possible.

If you’ve been injured at work, MOT offers full service Work Injury Rehabilitation (Functional Capacity Exams, Work Hardening, Work Conditioning, Hand Therapy, Vestibular (head injury) therapy, Physical Therapy, and Case Management). Almost every member of their staff is a native Spanish Speaker. And they have two drivers who will pick up as far away as Baltimore!

We refer our clients to MOT for physical therapy and they do a great job. Thank you so much, MOT, for everything you do for injured workers!

Brooke M. Birkey, Director of Client Services
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