The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in our community in many different ways. As a local business owner, Erika Stephan of Comber Physical Therapy and Fusion Chiropractic, has had to deal with the effects both personally and professionally.
She recently took the time to share her experiences and offer a message of appreciation and hope for brighter days ahead.
How has the health crisis affected you personally?
I’ve struggled with many of the same challenges that others are experiencing when facing an unprecedented, major upheaval to day-to-day life and an unpredictable future.
As a mother, I am experiencing stress, guilt, and loss for how my children are affected. I have a son graduating from college this year, and after studying five years to become a chemical engineer, he should be considering job offers, not moving into Mom’s basement.
My daughter Isabell is missing the high school senior experience and uncertain about whether or not she’ll be off to college in the fall or experiencing her freshman year by computer.
As a daughter, I worry about my elderly parents in New York. I haven’t been able to take time off to see them, and I worry about their health even if I could.
As an employer, I am concerned about the mental, physical, and financial health of my employees and trying to do the right thing for all of them. There definitely has been no Netflix binging for me as I juggle all of the usually demanding roles during an especially demanding time.
How has the health crisis affected your business?
Physical therapy and chiropractic care is considered an essential business, and we have remained open, but our visits initially dropped off 50 to 70 percent. We quickly innovated in response to the pandemic. We began to offer private treatment rooms with a separate entrance, in-home visits, and virtual visits (telehealth.)
While we certainly are able to help patients via virtual visits, as manual therapists, our greatest success with patients is achieved with hands on care. It’s our passion.
We also had to close down our Rock Steady Boxing gym that serves our Parkinson’s patients, and I am concerned about many of them having to increase their medications as a result.
We have been offering live classes via Facebook for our boxers. Some of our employees are able to work from home, some have been unable to work because they can’t find childcare, and others have been laid off until our patient visits increase again.
Are you offering any new products or services?
Our isolation rooms with separate entrances are available for patients considered high risk. They only have contact with one physical therapist who is wearing a mask. We also now offer in-home visits and virtual visits and evaluations.
Have you implemented any new sanitizing or social distancing practices?
We have always practiced “safe sanitizing,” but we are taking additional actions now to ensure patient and employee safety such as asking our patients to wash their hands upon arriving, taking patient temperatures, spacing people out in the gym, making use of private rooms, and making masks available.
We offer isolation rooms that have a separate entrance. A patient is able to wait in the car until the appointment time, and the therapist will call or walk out to the car. The patient is checked in and checked out by the therapist, and any payments due are collected over the phone. As a result, the patient only comes into contact with one individual during the treatment, the therapist, who is wearing a mask.
What’s an easy way the community can support your business right now?
You can support us by taking care of yourself. We can’t fix the pandemic, but we can help fix you. Our therapists and chiropractors are here to help you. Their profession is their passion, and they don’t want anyone to suffer needlessly from pain. If you have any issues that you were experiencing prior to the pandemic or that developed as a result of the pandemic, we want to offer you a safe place to help you heal.
Do you have any special offers that you’d like the community to know about?
We are offering free virtual consultations, and we offer a discount on chiropractic care for members of the military.
Do you have a message of hope or inspiration that you’d like to share with the community?
Eat smart, move more. Or in other words, while so many things are spinning wildly out of control, focus on the things that you can control like the actions you can take for your physical and mental health. We are all in this together, so reach out to friends and family, and let’s help each other focus on what we do have and what we can do while navigating the loss and uncertainty.
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
I took off early one Friday afternoon to take senior pictures for my daughter. It wasn’t what we originally had planned in the way of her senior pictures, but in a way, maybe it was even better. My two sons came home to help, and not only did we get a beautiful collection of photographs of my amazing daughter, I have pictures of all three kids together and memories of a special day that otherwise would have never happened.
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