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Patients find rehabilitation opportunities close to home

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By The Staff

When Katie Ashcraft tripped in a manhole and wrenched her back during a visit to Knoxville last summer she anticipated going out of town to visit doctors and orthopedic specialists in order to regain full use of her leg.
But Ashcraft, of Owenton, soon learned that she could receive all the care and rehabilitation services she needed right here at home.
“I originally injured my back in high school doing gymnastics and cheerleading,” Ashcraft explained. “This summer, when I fell into a manhole, I aggravated the old injury and it required physical therapy.”
She said she learned of the local physical therapy clinic while seeing her doctor at the New Horizons Family Practice.
“I decided to give it a try,” she said. “It was so much more convenient than driving out of town a couple of times a week and was much more affordable considering the cost of gas that would be used to travel t a service outside the county.”
Over the past 10 years, New Horizons Medical Center has slowly but steadily added new services to its offerings, and the opening of a new health care clinic a year ago gave them the perfect opportunity — and the space — to add physical therapy services to the list.
The former clinic now sports a new paint job in Owen County’s colors of maroon, white and black as well as a “gym” area; five treatment beds and a massage room. Plans include the addition of a hydrotherapy tub soon.
Jim Ziege, the physical therapist leading the way with the increased offerings, had been working out of an office in the hospital for some time prior to opening the clinic, but his services were limited to the equipment on hand. He and his assistant, Janet Millay, physical therapy assistant, have more than 40 years between them in the physical therapy field.
“It was breaking my heart to hear of people going to Frankfort, Lexington and Northern Kentucky for rehabilitation services,” Ziege said. “No one in the county should ever have to leave town for health care services.”
Ziege great up in Evansville, Indiana and worked with Health South, Good Samaritan and the former St. Luke West before joining the team at New Horizons. In addition to work at the clinic, he also provides therapy for members of the high school and middle school teams when needed and works with their trainers to ensure they are healed before they head back out onto the court or field.
Christina Johnson, daughter of Dr. Larry Johnson, hurt her knee playing soccer. She initially traveled to the University of Kentucky to ensure nothing in her knee was torn, but returned to Owenton when the clinic was able to provide the same rehabilitative care close to home.
“I got tacked by the goalie during the first game of the season,” she said. “My knee popped into and out of place almost at the same time. I had never cried on the soccer field before but I cried that day.”
Christina’s dad, Dr. Larry Johnson called her basketball coach, Robert Osborne, and then took her to the University of Kentucky where the team trainer worked. There, she saw and orthopedic surgeon who confirmed that she’d only strained the ligaments in her knee and would be good as new with physical therapy.
“Originally he recommended we go to a place in Frankfort, but Dad knew the physical therapy clinic in Owenton had just opened so we decided to give it a try,” Christina said. “This made it easy to go during my two-hour co-op window, after school or before games if needed. It was really convenient.”
“They just really do care about the progress of their patients,” she added. “They wanted me to get back on the field.
Christina’s initial goal was to wear heals to her brother’s wedding. While she didn’t quite reach that goal, she was able to play volleyball on the beach in Mexico when her family vacationed there after the wedding.
“Jim had me down to just one crutch after three or four days and off both of them a few days after that,” Christina said. “I was back on the field in two weeks.”
There are few physical issues, the clinic staff isn’t trained to address, Millay explained.
“From low-back pain to neck pain, to total knee replacements and hip surgeries, we can handle them all,” she said, adding that they also work with cardiac rehabilitation patients, work hardening candidates, rotator cuff patients, stroke victims and more.
Most insurances are accepted by the clinic as well after the patient’s physician writes the orders for physical therapy.
Ziege will also travel to the schools and provide therapy there if needed.
The clinic is open during the evening hours three days a week to make it possible for local residents to utilize services in town after they get home from work. The clinic is also open on Saturday mornings. The clinic can be reached by calling 502-484-4615.
Ashcraft said she recommends the clinic to anyone with a physical therapy need.
“I was very pleased,” she said. “I received exactly the care that I needed in order to return to my normal level of activity. Within weeks I was able to finally start working out as usual for the first time in months of trying to rehabilitate myself. I would still be taking every step in pain if it weren’t for Jim.”
Ziege added that if a patient has a physical therapy need, to call or have their doctor call regarding available services.
“If you need something, please call,” he said. “We will work with you as much as possible to ensure we provide the services residents need.”
Bernie Poe, administrator of New Horizons Medical Center, added the clinic is just one more attempt to provide quality health care to Owen County residents right here at home. And added that he is thankful for the presence of the New Horizons Medical Foundation which provides financial support to the medical center.
“At least every year, we’ve received operating funds from the foundation to help with cash flow issues,” Poe explained, adding that the funds are provided to the hospital on a loan basis and paid back with interest making it possible to keep the funds working in the community on a much longer basis.
“Because we are reimbursement-based and it takes several month to get reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, the Foundation has made it possible to accomplish things we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish without their help,” Poe added.
In addition to the loans, Poe said the Foundation provided the fee to cover lobbying services, which resulted in a grant from the federal government through Congressman Geoff Davis’ office. An EKG machine has also been purchased as well as additional equipment where needed.
“It’s safe to say we wouldn’t be where we are at without the Foundation,” Poe said. “Health care services in the community, such as the physical therapy office, wouldn’t be what they are today without the Foundation.”