Putting the Pieces in Place
As a new graduate from physical therapy school, Michelle Sierra felt totally confident in her deep knowledge of the body’s muscle systems. But when she volunteered to start a women’s health program and attended a continuing education session at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, she found she had more to learn.
“During the course, I learned there was a complex group of muscles and nerves in the pelvis,” she said. “I was fascinated. As a young 22 year old, I had no idea about the depth of the women’s health field. I didn’t choose women’s health—it certainly chose me.”
Over the last two decades as an owner of Dynamic Physical Therapy, Sierra has put her knowledge of women’s health into practice, helping women get relief from pelvic pain and related disorders.
Since opening the first clinic on the West Bank in 2000 with her husband Stephen, Dynamic has changed significantly, expanding to four locations and offering both traditional and specialized treatment for a variety of conditions.
“We never could have imagined the journey we would take when we opened our small, two-therapist clinic years ago,” Sierra said. “Our team has grown and we have greatly expanded our services, but our core values are the same as they were so many years ago. In fact, it is our steadfast commitment to patient-centered care that has helped us to grow and to thrive.”
Sierra began her career as a physical therapist at Ochsner Health System’s main campus. Her experience interacting with physicians and other medical practitioners gave her insight into the way physical therapy could be integrated into an overall healthcare plan.
“For too long, medicine has been practiced in silos. This leads to fragmented care,” she said. “I realized some doctors have misperceptions about what PTs do and might be unaware that we can help them address the underlying conditions causing their patients’ pain. I have spent my career forging relationships within the medical community, both through personal interaction and as a member of the LSUHSC PT School Advisory Board.”
Women’s health is one area in which interdisciplinary cooperation is gaining traction, Sierra said. While there has been a section on women’s health in PT for 40 years, it has not been not widely covered until recently.
Soon after launching Dynamic, Sierra developed a full-scale women’s health program. Just as it was taking off, Hurricane Katrina hit. Even with a notably decreased population following the storm, the practice saw an increase in patients, due in large part to various injuries and the resulting orthopedic procedures.
In 2007, the Sierras moved to the Northshore, following their families who were huge sources of support. The move prompted the couple to begin looking for Dynamic’s second location.
Recognizing the need to hire additional staff, the Sierras developed a hiring, training and mentorship model that has been instrumental in maintaining the philosophy and culture of the practice across all its locations.
“Our growth has been rapid, but it has also been very deliberate. We’ve researched market viability, reviewed locations and established benchmarks for success. Steve and I recognize that our roles change, and because of that, we have undergone business and management training. We have remained focused on delivering services and quality assurance. Our team not only knows our core values, they live our core values. I am proud to say our growth has increased by 25 percent each year since we opened two decades ago,” Sierra said.
With a growing team of qualified PTs and administrative staff, Sierra was able to refocus on her passion for women’s health. “I took a hiatus from women’s health when we moved to the Northshore. I wasn’t looking for it, but once again, women’s health found me. I received a call from a physician who had a patient she wanted me to see. I had practiced women’s health on and off, but it hadn’t been my focus for two years. The doctor assured me that I could help. I did see her patient, and she responded well to therapy. That experience fueled my passion to help women struggling with pelvic pain and discomfort,” she said.
This month, a fifth location of Dynamic Physical Therapy will open in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility at TerraBella Village in Covington. The practice will be one of the most technologically advanced in the region, allowing for personalized treatments along with aquatic therapy, sports medicine, balance training, WorkSTEPS®, unweighting, therapy for TMJ dysfunction, Parkinson’s disease, scoliosis, women’s health, pediatrics and wellness programs.
The new clinic at TerraBella has been designed to provide an environment conducive to orthopedic patients as well as women’s health. “It is exciting to be able to offer specialty programs and equipment that will meet the needs of diverse patient groups. We’ve dedicated a whole section of the building for women’s health, taking into consideration the sensitive issues many of these patients face,” Sierra said.
“Patient care remains our highest priority as we enter the next decade of practice. We know that our next patient will choose us because they have heard one of our current patients rave about their experience with us,” Sierra said. “We also truly believe that our employees are our most valuable asset. We want to help them meet their personal and professional goals because they will provide the highest quality care to our patients when they are the best they can be.”
Dynamic Physical Therapy has locations at 653 Myrtle Drive, 1550 Ochsner Blvd., Covington, 56 Starbrush Circle, Covington, 1290 Front St. Ste. 1B, Slidell, and in Marrero on the West Bank. For more information, please visit getwellatdynamic.com.