The Excitement and Struggle of Growth

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April has been an emotional month. I’ve gotten to speak with many of you over the last four weeks about our office’s transition and realized a few things. For one, things haven’t always happened the way I planned or likely would do again. Being sick after two long weekends away really impacted my ability to discuss our plans with those of you who have been in the practice since the beginning, and I wanted to both apologize and explain a few things.
My vision since Mama’s Chiropractic was born was to be the healthcare provider of choice for expecting mothers and their children who want to live well. As I’ve lived in the community I discovered a medical-political set of hurdles to women having their birthing choices honored and a geographical barrier to accessing chiropractic care. Season helps a lot of us financially, but to say it plainly the way our roads are strewn about in Lee County sucks, and having an office on a peninsula compounds the issue. When Baby Love closed I had to make a decision about the future of our practice. I will always remember a conversation I had with my friend Dr. George about how I could do a better job networking with birth providers. He told me that, as a profession, chiropractors don’t do a good job of communicating with other doctors. In order to diversify our professional referrals I started writing letters to the patients I shared with the midwives and doctors at HealthPark, Cape Hospital, and as the only option for VBAC at the time was homebirth, the independent midwives who would attend them.
The summer of 2015 a group of us went to the largest chiropractic convention in the country and had a conversation about what was the most realistic to serve our local community- one large co-op style office or small satellite offices around the county, in order to implement our vision. What we set in motion was a plan to grow our staff and address our geographical barriers by planting clinics within the vicinity of our largest referral sources- Lee Physicians Group midwives/HealthPark Labor & Delivery Nurses and LifeSong Midwifery. We sought to find the balance between serving the south Lee/ north Collier patients and the north Lee/Charlotte County patients and these centers where our patients were already making their regular appointments. It was a model that worked really well at Baby Love because it made care exceptionally convenient.
When planning the Estero office location I made a mistake. I looked at the map and saw the shortest distance between I-75 and US 41 was Corkscrew Rd in Estero, and thought if I was going to commute from my house and office in Cape Coral that would be the easiest drive. I also saw Lane Pediatrics, which many of you go to, a satellite office for Island Coast (where many of you have since been dismissed from), and Oakhaven Montessori all in the same 3 blocks. I thought it was a great fit, although the asking rent was triple what we’d budgeted. I’ve struggled with how to keep things like our fees consistent among the clinics, and the idea came up that if we started the relatively low overhead office in North Port first instead of in a year, that could help level out the costs of running the offices. Here was the problem, though. In talking with several families who were upset by the transition I discovered that the southern office was too far south to accomplish my goals of staying within range of HealthPark. We pulled our realtor out of negotiations and are now looking at plazas between Alico Rd and Sanibel Blvd. I simply didn’t account for the fact that those who are traveling from their appointments (or work) there have to travel north to go south and contend with that Gladiolus intersection.
This process has also revealed some serious flaws in our software. We received a glimpse of the bugs when we added Dr. Jenny and many of you suddenly had a problem with OnPatient. As I’ve added the North Port schedule it’s torn open a massive technical glitch that our provider drchrono apparently has no solution for. This means that we’re very likely going to have to switch software to a new system, and that is going to require patience on everyone’s part. I do have a company I spoke with while I was up in DC, and I was impressed with the simple solutions (easier online scheduling for one) they had to our problems.
Starting this week here are the immediate changes you’ll notice in the office. Our hours are changing in response to the conversations I’ve had with our patients and staff. We will now be open Monday mornings from 9-12. Dr. Jenny will be working Mondays, Wednesday afternoons, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I’ll be working in North Port Monday afternoons and all day Thursday. I’ll be seeing patients in Cape Coral all day Tuesday. On the occasions when both of us are in the office (I come in to do work some Wednesdays and I will be available on some Saturdays) you will be told at the front desk who you are scheduled to see. If you would like to change that, let Becky, Mel, or Allison know. I promise we’re here as chiropractors to make sure you get checked for subluxation, and neither Dr. Jenny or I will feel bad, slighted, or disappointed if you change your mind or want to stay with a particular doctor.
We may be forced to disable OnPatient. Right now the glitch I mentioned means that you see “available” appointments that really are booked for the other doctor. The maddening thing for us is that on Mondays if you were trying to book an appointment for Dr. Jenny in the Cape that’s available but Dr. John has a patient in North Port at the same time, OnPatient will show you the appointment in Dr. Jenny’s book but not let you schedule it because it conflicts with an appointment in Dr. John’s. It makes zero sense. Consequently (and some of you have noticed this in the office as we’ve looked “extra busy”), the only solution we’ve been offered is to allow double booking of time slots so people can schedule themselves in. This obviously becomes a problem when one of us may have one or two patients already scheduled- you don’t see it on your end, but we do (including the call center team) on ours. To help alleviate this I’ve given new instructions to Loretta and Paul about scheduling in families (where they’ve been saying “No,” because they’ve only seen one available slot they’re saying “Yes” if they know both of us are in the office). But adding the new location, and then a third, is breaking the system.
That’s why it’s really, really important over the next several months that you schedule your appointments in advance at the front desk and make every effort to keep on that schedule. It’s a really big ask for those of you juggling toddler nap times and tee ball schedules, I get it. All I can tell you is that this will be temporary until the new system is ready to run. Thanks to all of you who have stuck by us over the years, and for our recent patients- you’re about to be part of a movement SWFL has never seen.