Why East West Was Created

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Once upon a time, I was just like you, a patient overwhelmed by excruciating low back pain and an overwhelming sense of despair. I had left urgent care with more questions than answers and a loss of hope.

Fast forward a few years and I wasn’t just a patient anymore. I eventually became a physical therapist. I got a glimpse of what it was like on the other side of health care and became angry towards the insurance companies that hindered our ability to provide thorough care for our patients. It felt like they were tying our hands behind our backs, preventing us from doing what would be best for the patient.

On top of all that, I was constantly frustrated by witnessing patients falling through the cracks of our broken healthcare system, time and time again. It seemed that no matter what, there were always individuals who were left behind, left without the care they desperately needed.

It was out of all of these emotions – the pain, the anger, and the frustration – that East West Wellness & Rehab was born. It became our mission to make a difference, to create a new system, and to ensure that no patient was ever left feeling forgotten or hopeless again.

So, let me take you on a journey to explain further…

Chapter 1 – Pain, and lots of it

It all started in 2014, I was a young freshman walking the campus at Virginia Tech – or trying to at least. I was in tears from the back pain I was experiencing, and the weight of my backpack and lengthy distances between my classes didn’t help. This kind of pain was unfamiliar to me and quite frankly, very scary. 

I decided to drive four hours back home so that I could see the doctor and get some answers. When I made it to urgent care, I waited quite a bit of time after my scheduled appointment. Then, when I finally was able to be seen, he rushed me as I was sharing my symptoms and concluded that I will never be able to return to my favorite recreational activities: volleyball, basketball, or weightlifting. He told me that anything that would stress my back was harmful to me. He restricted me to things like cycling and swimming. All of the activities I didn’t enjoy… 

I walked out of that 15 minute appointment, absolutely distraught. I was only 19 years old and somehow already restricted from doing any activities that brought me joy. My options felt limited and I felt hopeless, unsure of what to do next. 

Chapter 2 – The truth is, they don’t care 

Fast forward to 2020, I became a licensed physical therapist and finally got the opportunity to treat patients who shared a similar experience to my low back pain story. I acquired the knowledge and skills to help my patients improve their symptoms AND return to their everyday activities that they enjoy. 

However, the biggest challenge that lay in front of the patient and I was now the insurance companies. Although I was doing my best to provide my patients the best rehab care possible, it often got halted by:

  • Limitations in PT visits 
  • High co-pays
  • Long waits for authorization
  • Restrictions in treatment
  • Lack of reimbursements

It was truly wild to see what the reality was on the other side of healthcare. I realized that while I had every intention of helping the patients to the best of my ability, I will always be restricted within their insurance plan. Rather than focusing on how to improve the patient’s symptoms, I had to play the game of how to work around their insurance to get them better. Priorities were totally flipped, and it made me angry to see my patient have to slow their progress due to their insurance plan not caring about their health, but rather caring about what would bring them more money. 

Chapter 3 – It wasn’t enough

Eventually, restrictions from insurance plans also resulted in my patients ending their rehab early before they were fully healed, cycling back to pain being their “new normal.” It wasn’t their fault though, the system wasn’t serving their needs: 

  • Different healthcare provider each visit (PT, PTA, rehab aide, student)
  • Limited one-on-one time with their PT (15-30 minutes)
  • Long treatment plans ranging from 2-3 visits for 2-3 months (16-24 visits at minimum) 
  • Limited treatment options, based solely on Western medicine
  • Lack of results

The healthcare system wasn’t providing our patients with the care they deserved, and it was lacking in more ways than one. It was frustrating to see my patients not meeting their rehab needs all because of the broken system. Losing patients between the cracks of our healthcare system made me wonder if there was a way to bridge the gaps and provide them with something better. There had to be more that I could do. 

Chapter 4 – Dreaming of more

Skip to 2022, and we begin the new era of East West Wellness & Rehab. All of the pain, anger, and frustration that accumulated over the years was able to manifest into something greater – a phoenix rising from the ashes. I was thankful for my experience because it taught me a lot about what not to do and what I didn’t like in the health care system. It motivated me to dream bigger, so that some day, my patients will be able to get the personalized, quality care they deserved with their rehab. 

Here are the highlights of what East West Wellness & Rehab has to offer: 

  • Consistency with the same licensed physical therapist each visit
  • Visits are 1-on-1 for the entire 60 minute session
  • With more direct time with the health care provider, rehab is able to be completed within a shortened time frame
    • On average, patients are seen 1 visit/week for 1-2 months (depending on the condition)
  • Treatment is based on both Eastern and Western medicine
  • No limitations + restrictions from health insurances

What this means is you, the patient, are our priority. 

The consistency and valued time together with our healthcare provider allows for your care to be personalized to your lifestyle, needs, and goals. Our multiple avenues of healing allows us to accelerate your rehab to get you the results faster and back to your activities without pain. 

This is the dream. Finally, our patients are able to rehab limitlessly and to their fullest potential.

Kathy Duong
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