By Brooke Bilyj
When physical therapists John Spiker and Sam Kegerrals—athletic trainers from West Virginia University—founded their company in 1979, their goal was to offer patients the same level of rehabilitative care that college athletes receive.
“We take a sports medicine approach to physical therapy, getting people back to the level they were at prior to their injury,” says Jack Brautigam, president and CEO of HealthWorks Rehab & Fitness. “In athletic training, you need to get players back on the field. We focus on getting people back to work, back to sports, and back to daily activities. Our purpose is to make those we come in contact with better.”
Making everyone who comes into contact with the organization better applies not only to patients but to its 125 employees, as well. And it’s among the reasons HealthWorks has grown into a comprehensive rehabilitation center with eight locations and plans for continued expansion.
Brautigam is no stranger to the company’s philosophy of self-improvement. He has been with the organization since 1989 and has been its leader since last year when Spiker retired.
“Growing our business has been a way to give the people who work for us opportunities to manage their own clinics,” Brautigam says.
Through the expansion, which has been driven by patient demand, HealthWorks often promotes from within, offering clinicians opportunities for professional development. To strengthen these paths for advancement, it prioritized leadership development in its recent five-year strategic plan.
“We’re trying to make sure that we educate our team about leadership as opposed to just clinical operations,” Brautigam says. “So when it’s time for me to leave, we have good leaders in place, because we’d like to be here another 40 years.”
That has paid off in employees committed to client care.
“We’ve been really fortunate because the people who work for us really care and have great attitudes as far as making sure their patients are taken care of,” he says.
Because of that, when it is hiring, HealthWorks relies on those employees for recommendations.
“We ask our current and past employees if they know of anyone who is looking for this type of a job,” he says. “We rely heavily on our network, and we have relationships with people in the health care fields. And that has served us well. We rely on them to give us business advice, and when we hire, we touch base with them to ask if there is anyone who needs a job who would fill the bill. There is no better reference than someone who has worked for or with you.”
Leave no client behind
As the organization grows—internally as well as externally—its focus remains on its clients. So when the owners noticed clients were traveling further distances to its Morgantown location, it opened six satellite locations to better serve them.
“These locations evolved because providing physical therapy service became more about taking service to the patient than the patient coming to us,” Brautigam says.
To further broaden that reach, HealthWorks is considering opportunities in Southwestern Pennsylvania and North Central West Virginia. As it has expanded its reach, however, Brautigam realized satellite offices were using slightly different processes. While clinical directors have the autonomy to run each office, he realized he needed to implement companywide standards.
“HealthWorks’ strategic plan is to develop and utilize the same business operations model throughout all the satellites,” he says. “It’s our goal to make sure we have consistency throughout the system. Are they all using the same patient registration forms? Are they all offering the same payment plans? We need to make sure we are rolling those things out in each of our satellites the same way we are in the main office, to make sure we are all doing things the same way.”
To ensure that happens, and that employees are aligned with HealthWorks’ goals, the company provides regular training.
“It’s critical that we communicate with our satellites and our directors and do group training for both our office and clinical staff,” says Brautigan. “Our greatest resource is our people. It’s about letting them do their job and making sure you’re giving them the opportunity to grow.”
Building relationships is imperative to growing a business. And the relationships that Brautigam and his team have built at Huntington have been key to the growth of HealthWorks.
“Huntington has developed a great relationship with me, our CFO, and a number of our employees,” says Brautigam. “They stop in even when there’s not necessarily a reason to stop, just checking in to make sure we know about programs or to ask if we have any needs.”
Through the process of financing HealthWorks’ expansion over the last 40 years, Huntington has become more than just a lender. In fact, Brautigam refers to Huntington team members, like Business Banking Relationship Manager Zach Sensabaugh, as great friends.
“We have outstanding support from Huntington, and it’s very relationship-oriented,” Brautigam says.
For more information, visit healthworksrf.com.