Submitted by Chad Long, Therapy Resource

For those of you who have never had a chance to meet Tyler “TJ” Petty, DOR at Montecito Post-Acute and Rehabilitation in Mesa, AZ…you should.  TJ is a leader full of charisma, compassion and focused on moving his team and facility forward in a CAPLICO manner.  He started his journey with Montecito in 2008 as a PRN Physical Therapist, then a full-time staff member in 2009 and has been the DOR since 2010.

Over the last 10 years, TJ has developed a dynamic therapy department in a very successful facility.  Montecito has grown to an average census of 190 with 100 skilled patients.  It is also a large Ventilator and Trach-dependent facility caring for acutely ill patients and fragile LTC residents, boasting 156 admissions and discharges per month!

I was able to ask TJ a few specific questions about his views on Leadership in order to gain a little insight into the success of Montecito:

How do you on-board and orient new therapy team members to a CAPLICO culture?

During interviews, TJ performs the first meeting on his own.  Then the entire therapy team must interview the candidate and come to a unanimous decision to recommend the hire; “That new person will only be successful if we are all on board.”  This process encourages healthy and vigorous debate among the team.

Next, the new team member’s first day on the job must be “memorable, in a good way.”  Having the name badge and orientation paperwork ready, along with ensuring the mentor/trainer is prepared, is key to showing that Montecito therapy is proactive, professional and FUN.  TJ loves to quote his former ED, Forrest Peterson, during orientation, “Our building will go as far as our therapy team takes us.”  This sets the tone for the new member that therapy is looked to as leaders, ensuring the vision for the facility, so they should conduct themselves accordingly.  “Once you get the ball rolling, the team will take over.”

Finally, TJ sits down with each new staff and discusses their personal/professional goals so he can facilitate the growth of that therapy leader.

What specifically do you do to grow leaders in your therapy department?

With such a large team and busy case load, TJ noticed the weekly therapy meeting was not focused and inefficient.  Thus, he created his “rope teams.”  Using the analogy from mountain climbing and how 3-4 members of a team are roped together and have different responsibilities, TJ linked teams of one licensed therapist to 2-3 assistants.  The “Lead” therapists meet weekly with the assistants to discuss the patients, etc., AND THEN they also discuss anything else to build relationship and camaraderie.  This is the rope team’s opportunity to build each other up, have fun and develop leadership skills.

Also, TJ meets one-on-one with his team, teaching them to bring problems with solutions and coaching them in their professional goals. From this process, TJ has helped grow two DORs and said, “Any therapist could take my job.”

How do you/your therapy team cross over and support other departments in your facility?

Each month the therapy department formally recognizes a CNA letting the individual and facility know how much therapy appreciates all the hard work and collaboration.  Another example is having therapy take a teaching role with their nursing partners.  Currently, therapy and nursing are learning the Ranchos Los Amigos Scale for their brain inured patients to coordinate therapy-nursing care effectively.  The therapy staff also take IDT roles throughout the facility:  Speech Therapy works closely with Respiratory to ween patients off the ventilator and progress them along in the trach process; Physical Therapy supports the Falls Committee, and each lead therapist is responsible for patient care conference; and TJ meets with nursing to identify LTC residents with mobility issues for the purpose of discharging them to a more independent level of care. “Who can we help get out of here.”

Also, every therapy staff member is ready to help support Marketing/Admissions with tours or supporting the facility in the community.

Who is a mentor to you and what specifically did/does that individual do that impacts your leadership today?

Three individual were immediately identified:

Forrest Peterson, former ED at Montecito and current Bandera Market Leader.  TJ described, “seeing the way he would develop people and his thought process,” as very formative.    Forrest would (still does) spend time with others, hold them accountable in a consistent process that TJ likened to the Mr. Myiagi approach of the 1980’s iconic movie, The Karate Kid.

His Father.  “My Dad told me, once you get that job, make yourself as valuable as possible.”  Thus, TJ makes sure he gets involved in every department, “whenever I can to figure out where I can help.”

Pat Tillman, football player with TJ’s beloved Arizona State University Sun Devils and professionally with the Arizona Cardinals, who enlisted with the U.S. Army after the attacks of September 11th.  Pat Tillman was killed in April of 2004 in Afghanistan.  “What a cool leader; he knew what was right for him and he did it, not for the recognition, but because he knew it was right.”