Direct Access: What it is and why you want to know about it

Much as a dented car does not get fixed by parking it on the side of the road, nor does a body hindered by injury or pain get healed without attention. Injuries and pain require evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.  Lucky for us, the State of Connecticut offers a healthcare benefit that simplifies the process of getting treated. It’s called Direct Access and it’s a benefit worth knowing about.

Direct Access is a statewide program that eliminates the need for a primary care physician referral prior to seeing a Rehabilitation Therapist. The streamlined process — which allows up to six visits with an RVNAhealth physical therapist at the RVNAhealth Rehabilitation & Wellness Center without a physician referral — is both cost-effective and allows individuals to enjoy swifter diagnosis and relief. In other words, it helps you get better faster.

This little-known benefit began in Connecticut in 2006 to provide patients more immediate diagnosis and relief.  “Direct Access is an expedited way to get to the root cause and treat, rather than just self-diagnose — or ignore — both of which can prolong the issue but are tempting when the process of getting to a therapist is belabored,” says Gigi Weiss, MSPT, RVNAhealth Director of Rehabilitation Therapies. “Ultimately, Direct Access allows you to get in quickly to increase stability, relieve discomfort, and prevent worsening,”

Weiss encourages those with intermittent pain, mild injury, mobility limitations, or other chronic conditions to leverage the Direct Access program not just for minimization of discomfort but for proper diagnosis and treatment. “Often patients self-treat without success because symptoms are not always representative of the core issue,” says Weiss. “For example, neck issues can present as wrist pain so tending to the wrist won’t address the root cause and won’t provide much relief, especially long term. In many cases, the six visits granted through Direct Access get an individual well on their way to healing.”

Direct access can also benefit individuals with lingering difficulties from a health episode, like swallowing, fine motor skills, or communication. In these cases, Direct Access provides a fast track to restorative visits with an appropriate clinician.

At RVNAhealth, the rehabilitation team also collaborates with insurance providers and primary care physicians to coordinate coverage and treatment so patients can focus on wellness. For more information or to schedule a Direct Access assessment, visit RVNAhealth.org/Rehab or call  (203) 438-7862.

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COVID-19 Vaccine: Taking it to the Streets

After a successful run at Yanity Gym in Ridgefield, administering over 11,000 COVID-19 vaccines from January through May 2021, RVNAhealth took the show on the road this June, bringing the vaccine and education to individuals where they live, work — and sometimes even where they play. We’ve administered vaccines in homes and we’ve set up shop at street festivals, schools, churches, libraries, and, of course, the Danbury Farmers’ Market!

And individuals and families have come. Many who want to learn about and receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Connecticut have not yet had the opportunity. Real-life obstacles — time, transportation, access — have gotten in the way. “Our work this summer,” says Laura Shulman Cordeira, Director of Community Health & Wellness at RVNAhealth, “is not about volume. It is about finding the pockets of individuals and families who want the vaccine – or want to learn about it – and simply have not had access or opportunity. This work is very important. Everybody who wants the COVID-19 vaccine deserves to get it.”

Whenever possible, RVNAhealth works to offer nutrition along with the vaccine. We’ve partnered with Community Food Rescue, conducted food drives, and at the Farmers’ Market, vaccine recipients are given $10 vouchers to shop at the Market following their shot.

RVNAhealth’s work in Danbury is made possible through the generosity of the Danbury Health Equity Grant and in collaboration with the many Danbury partners who support it, including: Danbury Health Department; Connecticut Institute for Communities (CIFC); Community Health Center of Danbury; Community Action Agency of Western Connecticut; and RVNAhealth.