BY JACLYN ROSE –
For the past five years, Progressive Therapy Kids has been in the school districts in Polk County, providing physical, occupational and speech therapy to local children. Because many children are unable to continue therapy during the summer months, which is critical in many cases, in June of 2015, Progressive Therapy Kids opened a clinic, located at 605 Mena Street, in Mena to better serve their patients.
Billy Hatridge, Clinical Director and Lead Occupational Therapist, explained that this new clinic, a satellite of Progressive Therapy in Mayflower, Arkansas, has opened in order to create a good continuum of care for their patients. These kids will only have to see one set of therapists, instead of seeing one set at school and one set at an out patient clinic. This creates consistency and a much better treatment plan for the children.
Progressive Therapy Kids has the ability to evaluate and treat children ages birth to 21, with a referral from their primary care physician. Currently they serve eight school districts, as far north as Acorn and Mount Ida all the way down to Lockesburg, with a large number of their students in the Mena School District. The Mena Clinic currently has eight therapists on staff that focus on physical, occupational and speech therapy. They accept Medicaid and most forms of private insurance.
Progressive Therapy Kids will also be able to treat students that do not qualify for school based treatment. In order to be treated in schools, students must qualify for special education resources or speech therapy. There are many instances where a child could use therapy, such as a sports injury, that would not qualify for school based treatment. These children can be treated at the outpatient clinic.
Hatridge is a native of Ashdown, Arkansas and has been interested in Occupational Therapy since he was in the 8th grade. He went to work for Progressive Therapy immediately after graduating from the University of Central Arkansas. He married his wife, Kimberly, two years ago. Hatridge personally works in 14 different schools from Acorn to Lockesburg, but explained that there is a higher number of students in Mena. “Mena has such a great special education program, Laura Bunch [Special Education Supervisor at DeQueen – Mena Education Cooperative] does such a good job that I know of families with special needs children that have actually moved to the area to get their kids in the school system. We work with a variety of students, autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, genetic disorders, and developmental delays. Every school is different.”
Now that Progressive Therapy Kids has a clinic open in Mena, they are working hard to get their name and services out into the public and into the local doctor’s offices. They are always happy to do an evaluation and encourage parents to get started on the evaluations before children enter the school system, if possible. “The more medical paperwork we have when a child starts school the better treatment plan we can build up and the better the school can adapt to work with the child,” explained Hatridge. The clinic can be reached by calling 479.385.1236 and referrals are needed through the child’s primary care physician.
“We opened our clinic in Mena because we want to be able to provide quality therapy to the children of Polk County, so that they no longer have to travel to Hot Springs, Fort Smith or Little Rock on a regular basis and to continue the therapy they are receiving during the school year throughout the summer,” Hatridge explained.