Meet Denise Johnson, PT

Denise brings with her several years of field experience and a somewhat new accolade: Teletechnology Delivery Service Mode Expert. It all started back in September with a SNF COVID-19 outbreak. Implementation of telehealth as a service delivery mode became imperative after the outbreak and Denise led the charge! Denise, like many other HTS therapists, provides therapy at a few buildings. As we know all too well, due to the PHE, many facilities have implemented policies prohibiting therapists to work at mulsites in order to mitigate exposure of contagion. These types of (necessary) policies and the need for therapeutic services in a building with a COVID-19 outbreak furthermore illustrated the need for Telehealth.

So, how did Telehealth implementation begin? After the administrator of the building was made aware and approved Telehealth as a service delivery mode, the therapy team went to work on logistics. Per Denise, this is the biggest challenge with Telehealth Services. Consent forms must be received prior to treatment. Brian Kemp, PTA at Southfield Village suggests use of a binder so that all of the consent forms can be tracked and kept in one place. Once the consent form is signed and received, the person at the other end of the camera with the patient must then play their part in order to effectively provide a Telehealth session. Most often this person is a PTA/COTA. However, depending on your facility’s staffing and policy, other facility staff members are also able to fill-in. “Things like getting the camera angle right and assuring the patient is able to hear you is imperative and contributes to the effectiveness of your skilled therapeutic session” says Denise. As a seasoned PT working with Telehealth, Denise’s main concern with the newly available platform being used (Zoom) is those patients suffering from dementia. Patients with poor or limited participation poses its own set of challenges. However, for the most part, telehealth has worked and bottom line, although most therapists prefer visits to be face-to-face and hand- on, Telehealth provides an acceptable alternative to provide coverage to a population who needs it.

When specifically asked about the benefit of Telehealth as a service delivery mode, Denise emphasized and thanked the PTAs and COTAs she has worked with. For example, a therapist providing Telehealth is unable to look to quantify edema in the legs, accurately observe when a patient goes sit-to-stand, or if there is a retro bias when the patient is standing. The therapist on the other side of the Zoom video call may be missing firsthand on these clinical components and are heavily reliant on the person on the other camera who is with the patient to pick-up on these types of observations. What’s the silver lining? Well, according to Denise, the nice thing is that the therapy assistants she has worked with are even more in-tune with the global picture of what is trying to be achieved during evaluations and supervisory visits. This results in more accurate documentation and effective treatment sessions.


Past Stories From the Field can be found on the HTS Portal. Have a great “Hoping & Coping Story from the Field ” you would like to share with fellow HTS therapists?

Email Sheena Mattingly, Director of Clinical Outcomes at for your chance to be featured in a “Story from the Field!”

Meet HTS SHEro Jessica Duffy

You may be asking yourself, what exactly is a SHEro? A SHEro is a woman admired for her courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities; a heroine. The pandemic has made it clear that HTS has been blessed with many heros and sheros but for this story from the field’s purposes we will focus on Jessica.

“Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader, they set out to make a difference. It’s never about the role…always about the goal.” Author Unknown

Jessica is an OTR and Regional Director who has been with HTS for 13 years. Like many HTS facilities, staffing became cumbersome due to a COVID-19 outbreak resulting in therapists being unable to provide therapy at multiple buildings. This has become common practice and is done in order to mitigate risk of exposure. Jessica knew there was a need and immediately jumped in to help navigate this all too familiar situation. Census soon began increasing a couple months after the pandemic began. Jessica took swift action to assist with the staffing issue which ensued. She began by facilitating and setting-up PT with telehealth treatment sessions. Jessica herself also served as the primary therapist and OTR for the facility. As she juggled her primary responsibilities to provide support and management for her region, she also provided patient care to ensure each patient received the vital therapy services needed.

“Ultimately, it is our responsibility to the patients we serve to figure out a way to make it work” said Jessica. And make it work she did! According to Jessica and the therapy team, the most challenging aspect of an outbreak within a SNF is logistics. Scheduling of patients becomes tricky at times as does assuring all precautions are appropriately taken to keep the staff and the families they return home to safe. Jessica does have a tip for other facilities going through a similar situation… over-communicate. Educating nursing staff on patient needs observed during therapy (which are constantly changing and evolving) is of utmost importance. Communication of isolation, environmental stimulation techniques, and activity engagement to combat contagion and depression risks are some examples of the training Jessica has provided facility staff members.

Jessica is encouraging fellow therapists to assure they are taking time for themselves and engaging in activities that are fulfilling. Jessica herself likes to spend time with her family outdoors which has helped her refocus during stressful, overwhelming times. Just as many of our star therapists in the field, Jessica has gone above and beyond and for that we thank her (and you)!


Past Stories From the Field can be found on the HTS Portal. Have a great “Hoping & Coping Story from the Field ” you would like to share with fellow HTS therapists?

Email Sheena Mattingly, Director of Clinical Outcomes at for your chance to be featured in a “Story from the Field!”