NAAOP Fellows Visits for 2019

By Alicia Carver and Susannah Engdahl

See photos of our trips in the 2019 NAAOP Fellowship Photo Gallery.

OPGA, NCOPE, ABC, and AOPA

The NAAOP Fellows were on the road again during the week of June 24th. We started with a visit to Iowa, where we met with Todd Eagen, President of OPGA, and Kelly Turner, Member Development Coordinator of OPGA. They taught us how OPGA works to support independent O&P practitioners by providing services relating to insurance, business management and marketing, and by offering access to discounted supplies from manufacturers. We also had a meeting where we learned about advocacy from several Iowa state legislators, including former Iowa State Senator Jeff Danielson, former Iowa House Speaker Christopher Rants, and Iowa State Representative Timi Brown-Powers. It was very helpful to hear their perspectives on how to advocate in a manner that legislators find helpful.

Our next trip was to Virginia, where we were hosted by NCOPE and ABC. Robin Seabrook, Executive Director of NCOPE, shared a presentation about the history of NCOPE and the role that it currently plays in accrediting orthotics and prosthetics education programs, as well as elevating the educational standards for practitioners in training. Afterwards, we learned about ABC from Cathy Carter, Executive Director, and Steve Fletcher, Director of Clinical Resources. They talked with us about the process that must be followed for certifying practitioners and accrediting orthotics and prosthetics facilities, as well as the role that ABC plays in overseeing these processes. We also appreciated learning about the missions of NCOPE and ABC complement each other and ultimately work together to advocate for high quality patient care and professional standards.

We ended our week with AOPA. There we met with Eve Lee, Executive Director of AOPA, and Ashlie White, Director of Strategic Alliances. We sat in on a conference with the whole AOPA team, gained a more in depth knowledge about AOPA and learned how they as a collective team help the orthotic and prosthetic profession. We learned how to utilize the AOPA Co-OP database. It is a wonderful and valuable tool that can help us through our fellowship and beyond as we find our place in the world of advocacy and health policy.

We had a great time during all of our trips and would like to thank everyone who shared their time with us! We felt very welcomed by everyone who hosted us.

Michigan

We just returned from a trip to Michigan, where we had the opportunity to shadow Jan Stokosa, CP, at the Stokosa Prosthetic Clinic and meet some members of the Michigan Legislature at the State Capitol building. At the Stokosa Prosthetic Clinic, we first learned about billing and some of the procedures that the Stokosa team follows when submitting insurance claims and appealing coverage decisions. Although, as individuals with limb loss ourselves, we both have experience with being denied coverage as patients, it was interesting to learn about this process from a provider perspective. We were also given a tour of prosthetic clinic, including the exam rooms and the laboratory. There was an assortment of prostheses in the laboratory that were in various stages of fabrication, which helped us see how much work is involved in designing, fitting, and fabricating a prosthesis. We were also able to observe Jan as he modified and repaired an elevated vacuum system and adjusted a socket to reduce pressure points on a patient’s residual limb.

During our trip, we talked with many patients who had diverse experiences in terms of their amputation level and history of prosthesis use. Most of these patients had experienced complications following their amputation that resulted in significant long-term pain, as well as revision surgeries to correct these issues. They also shared stories about their difficulties in getting insurance coverage for their prostheses, even though the prostheses had significantly improved their functional status, pain levels and overall quality of life. We will keep these stories in mind as we move forward with our advocacy efforts.

We also spent a full day at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan visiting with the Michigan legislature. We were introduced to Jack Schick with Karoub Associates. As a lobbyist and an amputee himself, he gave a tutorial in lobbying 101. We had scheduled meetings with Senator Vanderwall and Representative Vaupel. Senator VanderWall was kind enough to take us onto the floor of the Senate chamber. We learned what it is like to be a state lobbyist and the art of grabbing the attention of members of the House and Senate to get a few moments of their time. We are grateful to Jan and Mary Stokosa for being such gracious hosts, to the staff at Stokosa Prosthetic Clinic, and to everyone who made us feel so welcomed on this trip and shared their time with us.

BOC

On Monday June 10, 2019, the NAAOP Fellows spent the day at BOC headquarters in Owings Mills, Maryland. We were warmly welcomed by BOC’s President and CEO, Claudia Zacharias, as well as the entire BOC staff. We spent time learning about the roles each staff member plays within the organization and were able to see the team mentality they all embrace.

We learned about their history as an accreditation organization, the makeup of their board of directors to include practitioners from all certification categories, and their proud recognition of the awards they have received in recent years, including nine Stevie Awards. John Schulte, CPO, joined us and took us through the process he follows as a Facility Accreditation Surveyor and what the BOC looks for in a facility. Everyone really showed to us the work they perform in trying to help the O&P community work together to achieve a unified goal. We were inspired by their commitment to quality and are thankful for all the work BOC put into planning and executing a great day for the NAAOP Fellows!

The Academy, OPIE Software, and Hanger Clinics

The week of June 17th was a busy one for the NAAOP Fellows. We began our week with a visit to the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists, where we met the team and attended a weekly staff meeting. We learned about how the Academy compiles educational and research resources, such as the Online Learning Center, the Exam Preparation Seminars, and the Journal of Prosthetics & Orthotics, that allow members to continue learning new ways to meet patient needs. We would especially like to thank Chellie Hollis Blondes, Executive Director, and Manisha Bhaskar, Senior Director of Communications & Marketing, for taking time to share with us their roles in leading the Academy.

Immediately after our visit to the Academy, we hopped on a plane to Florida to see the Gainesville Prosthetics and Orthotics clinic and meet Paul Prusakowski, CPO, FAAOP, and CEO of OPIE Software. We learned about the history of OPIE from Paul and spent the rest of the day talking with other members of the OPIE team about their areas of expertise. In particular, we heard about the software development cycle, customer experiences with implementing the software, the knowledge-centered customer support system used when answering customer questions, and the OPIE Choice Network.

After returning from Florida, we spent two days touring the Hanger Clinic in Laurel, MD and in Washington, DC at the National Rehabilitation Hospital. We had the opportunity to sit in on several patient visits in Laurel, including with a patient who was new to that particular clinic. During this visit, we were able to observe how the prosthetist used patient-reported outcome measures to assess the patient’s current functional status and evaluated the socket fit to determine if a new prosthesis was needed. We also had a conversation with Suzi Vicino, Directory of Utilization Management Services, about successful strategies for submitting clinical documentation for reimbursement.

At the National Rehabilitation Hospital, we learned about the differences in how an O&P clinic operates when embedded in a hospital. After sitting-in on a patient visit and observing how modifications are made to a test socket, we toured the two therapy gyms at the hospital and learned how the prosthetists, orthotists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists strive to coordinate with each other to maximize their patients’ success. We would like to thank Maggie Baumer, an NAAOP board member, for organizing the trip and accompanying us during our entire time at Hanger. She introduced us to so many of her colleagues who shared their experiences.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to meet with us on our trips this past week, and for showing us such warm hospitality! We enjoyed this week very much and appreciate the efforts of everyone who made it possible.