Ability Paves Way for Amputee Clinic in Maryland
Positive outcomes for O&P patients can be correlated to the type of care they receive. According to an article in the AMA Journal of Ethics, “The key to improving outcomes for those who have lost limbs is to ensure that they receive appropriate and comprehensive interdisciplinary care to address both their physical and psychological needs.”1 That’s why Ability Prosthetics & Orthotics helped Dan Sullivan, D.O., establish an amputee clinic at Western Maryland Hospital Center (WMHC) in Hagerstown.
WMHC is a state run specialty rehabilitation hospital for individuals with complex healthcare needs. Sullivan, the director of the brain injury unit at WMHC, is a board certified physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physician with additional board certifications in spinal cord rehabilitation, sports medicine, and pain medicine.
Sullivan says he has been interested in prosthetics ever since completing his residency at the University of Virginia. “When I was in residency, I did a month working with a prosthetist,” he says. “It was very cool, hands-on work. So I’ve always had some interest in prosthetics.”
The idea for an amputee clinic at WMHC was borne out of conversations between Jeff Quelet, CPO, Ability’s co-owner, and Sullivan, who had worked together with a number of prosthetics patients while Sullivan was working at one of the local hospitals and again when Sullivan was in private practice. “The patients Jeff would send me are some of the more difficult patients to get insurance coverage for,” Sullivan says, “so when I stopped working private practice, Jeff was looking for another way we could do things.”
The two decided to approach the State of Maryland to see if the State would allow Sullivan to set up amputee clinic at WMHC. It can be difficult to get new healthcare initiatives approved at the State level, so Quelet and Ability clinician Chris DiGioia, CP, CFo, had several meetings with the CEO of the hospital before taking the request to the State.
The State approved the request, providing dedicated space at WMHC for the clinic and allowing Sullivan to set aside some of his time each week to run the clinic. The State does not charge additional fees to patients for clinic services.
The clinic has been up and running since January. Patients who attend the clinic see Sullivan and a local prosthetist and are provided with wound care and pain management services, prosthetic counseling and training, and physical therapy referrals.
Right now, Sullivan primarily works with Ability clinicians, but the clinic is soliciting for other prosthetists to come in as well. He envisions that as the clinic becomes more well known, he may eventually work with four or five different prosthetists.
Sullivan holds two amputee clinics per month, and initial successes have led the hospital to provide Sullivan with a larger space outfitted with parallel bars to make it easier to do testing during a patient’s initial visit.
One of the clinic’s primary goals is to help facilitate speedier access for patients to medically necessary prosthetic technology. The prosthetists advise Sullivan on the types of technology that would help each patient maximize his or her functional outcome, and Sullivan is able to provide the prosthetists with the physician documentation that insurance companies require to approve the prosthetic prescription. Sullivan and his Ability colleagues have also developed a referral network among several physical therapists at the local hospital who are familiar with working with amputees.
“We’ve set up a nice group of people who work together and take a team approach to amputee care,” Sullivan says. “I think it’s been very good for everyone, and it never would have happened without Ability. They recognized the need and knew I had an interest in this area. Fortunately, the State saw the benefit for everyone and is allowing us to do it.”