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Jordan Trinagel: An Occupational Therapist’s Perspective on Healthcare

Jordan Trinagel gives us an occupational therapist’s perspective on healthcare in this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast with Rob Oliver. Based in New York, Jordan is a member of the Millennial Generation. She is also an online health coach with experience in holistic medicine.

Here are 3 things that stood out as Jordan Trinagel shared an occupational therapist’s perspective on healthcare:

· An occupational therapist helps you with all your activities of daily living, the things you don’t even think about doing
· Quality healthcare involves educating the patient and treating each patient as though they are your family member
· Virtual technology allows for more than just telehealth, it allows therapists to remotely view and assess their client’s home environment and create a plan for how the client can best live and function in that environment

You can find out more about Jordan Trinagel through her website and social media links below:


Here is my conversation with Jordan Trinagel as she shared an occupational therapist’s perspective on healthcare:

Introduction to Jordan Trinagel:

Rob Oliver: Thank you. And welcome to another episode of Perspectives on Healthcare. I am very happy today to bring in an occupational therapist. Her name is Jordan Trinagel. She is from New York, and she is also an online health coach. She is into holistic medicine. Listen, the reason why I’m excited about bringing in an occupational therapist is I will tell you that during my rehab process, an occupational therapist literally changed my life. So I’m not going to say that Jordan is going to change your life today. I’m just going to say that to me, occupational therapy is one of the undervalued and underappreciated resources that exist in the healthcare world. And after saying all that, I do say this. Jordan, welcome to the podcast.

Jordan Trinagel: Wow. Thank you so much. What a great introduction that makes me feel even better.

Rob Oliver: No problem. Delighted to have you here and excited to hear your perspective. So we’ll jump right into this. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your role in healthcare, please.

Jordan Trinagel: Sure. I definitely always wanted to be in healthcare. I always was into health and fitness and science and helping people. And so actually, I discovered occupational therapy. My mom was a teacher for kids with special needs in a school, so she was like, you should be a therapist. So I looked into physical therapy, occupational therapy and all the different therapies so just for those listening who don’t know exactly what occupational therapy is. It is similar to physical therapy, but it’s more focused on occupation, not as in your job but as in what you do on a day to day basis. So things that occupy your time in the most basic sense. So all the things that you take for granted and being able to take care of yourself. So bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding, hygiene, grooming, but also cognitive vision and being able to participate in daily activities, whether it’s taking care of yourself or taking care of others. So as an occupational therapist, we really look at the patient as a whole and understand, like what’s important to them, what’s going to motivate them after an injury, illness, accident, to really make sure that they’re getting back to their lives as best as they can, as independently as possible. So I’ve worked in rehab facilities in hospitals, and I’ve done some early intervention, like home care, but really, OT can go anywhere and do anything. I feel it’s so broad we can really justify, like therapy in all the senses of really helping people just maximize their capacity and performance in everyday life.

Rob Oliver: It’s interesting. I see physical therapy and occupational therapy as being opposite sides of the same coin where physical therapy is a lot of strengthening and a lot of exercise. They’re doing a lot of measuring and numbers. Occupational therapy is the practical side of that to say. Okay, we’re getting you stronger so that you can do the things that you want to do in your life. And let’s take a look at how to accomplish those particular tasks. How does that resonate with you?

Jordan Trinagel: Yeah. I love that. Yeah. I would say as an OT, you have to be a little bit more like creative and problem solver, a little bit like logistics to kind of come up with creative ways of doing things. I hate to say PT is lower body and OT’s upper body because it’s really not. I think a lot of people know therapy, like in the school sense of fine motor skills versus gross motor skills. Really, there’s a lot of overlap in it, but physical therapy, they really focus a lot on ambulation or walking, like how you walk, how you move. But OT also, we focus on how you get around, and it’s pretty much someone told me one time it’s like PT will help you walk down the aisle. Ot will help you prepare yourself to get dressed and put your makeup on and do everything else perfect.

What does quality healthcare mean to you?

Rob Oliver: What does quality health care mean to you?

Jordan Trinagel: I think as healthcare professionals in our oath that we have, we make sure that we’re doing no harm and doing things at the best interest of the patient. So one, it’s making sure that we’re educating patients as much as possible on the things that they should know about. But also, I also have students that I’ve mentored and supervised. So for me, quality means like you’re treating this patient as if they’re your family member or they’re your friend’s family member. So you’re going above and beyond. Every patient should be a VIP. Like there is no special treatment for this patient versus that patient. Everyone should be getting your utmost attention, going above and beyond for everyone, which is exhausting and emotionally draining for us as a health care professional. But I feel like you have to take every single person individually so that you can give them the proper quality care of going above and beyond while they’re in the hospital, while they’re under your supervision, under your care, to provide them with the information or speak to their family members to give them the information or advocate for them and push for them to find other services or really treat them like they’re your family member because I think people may not do things for some people that they would do for other people. So if you pretend that they are your family, then you’ll give them the quality.

Rob Oliver: Sure. I mean, when you’re looking at it and if you’re treating everyone like your brother or your mom or your grandmother, whatever stage of life they happen to be in, you’re going to be looking for the absolute best for them.

Can you give me an example of quality healthcare?

Rob Oliver: Can you give me an example of quality healthcare?

Jordan Trinagel: Sure. So like I said, I see patients in the hospital, and I have personally contacted patients, family members and said, Listen, if this was my mom or dad or someone, I would not accept this as like, the final answer, I would go seek a second opinion a lot of off the record, because I’m very blunt and have no filter in most of those aspects, which I think some people respect. But it gets me in trouble sometimes. But really, my example of quality health care is advocating for the patient when either they can’t advocate for themselves or expressing the importance of their family members to push for further investigation or second opinions, or really researching what else is out there. Because if you’re not happy with the care, it’s not the end. You absolutely can continue on. And there’s so much information out there, which is overwhelming. But I think it’s about finding people who really care about your health, safety and well being and just hearing it from a professional. Sometimes family members are like, wow, okay. I really will go and search for other answers.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. The paradigm has been for so long that the medical professionals are the authorities and you take what they tell you. And that’s just how it is. And what you’re talking about is patient advocacy or family advocacy, which says, I’m not completely satisfied with where things are. We need to work on that. We need to change that.

What do you wish people understood about your role in healthcare?

Rob Oliver: What do you wish people understood about your role in health care?

Jordan Trinagel: I think as occupational therapist, a lot of people still confuse it with physical therapy, with massage therapy, with vocational therapy or training like, I go into patients rooms. I’m like, I’m your occupational therapist. They’re like, I’m retired. I don’t need a job. I wish that people knew, like you that you’ve had such an amazing experience and knew the depth of things that we can perform with patients. And I think most people who have heard of OT have either had a personal experience or know someone who’s had something happen. But I think it is so broad that we really can see anyone in any situation. So I guess I wish that people were able to separate OT from the other discipline, even though it does overlap. It gets confusing, but it is definitely a powerful standalone therapy in and of itself.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. Okay. So I’m going to try and tell this story as briefly as possible. When I was in rehab. My occupational therapist, as I mentioned, really changed my whole outlook. And I went into the OT gym, and she said to me, what do you want to do? And I said, what do you mean? What do I want to do? You tell me what I’m capable of, you know, the level of my injury, you know what I’m capable of. You tell me what I should be doing, and I will work really hard to meet all those goals. And she said, no, you tell me what you want to do. And here’s the thing she said, you may not do it like you used to do it. You may not do it like everybody else does it. And it may take a lot of creativity and perseverance to get it done. But whatever it is that you set as your goal, I will work with you to accomplish that. And to me, that really changed the whole outlook from going from an if mentality of if I was going to be able to go back to school, if I was going to be able to get married, if I was going to be able to do all of the things that I had wanted to win. And so to me, that’s the power that my occupational therapist brought into my rehab setting. And now it changed everything and changed my whole outlook.

What excites you about the future of healthcare?

Rob Oliver: So what excites you about the future of health care?

Jordan Trinagel: That story just gave me chills. I love that. It’s so true, because I think for us we’re on the other side, like before you had your injury, you probably had no idea about this whole world of disability and anything. And it’s so funny because you look at patients and they have their injury, and it is really like, yeah, what do you want to do? You want to play golf and someone probably is like, I can’t play golf. Yes, you can. You want to go skiing? We’re going to make it happen. Love it. Okay. So things that excite me about the future of health care, I would say, I don’t know. Honestly, at this point, with COVID, I’m a little bit nervous about the future of health care. I think healthcare burnout is very real. I think we’re going to have a lack of therapists and nurses and doctors. But what I will say is I think finally, number one, COVID has made us realize how important our health is. And maybe there’ll be a shift towards more health promotion and disease prevention rather than just symptom treatment, because obviously in the US, it’s very here’s your list of symptoms. Here’s the medication. And this is the best we can do, as opposed to let’s look at your lifestyle and your health and understand how you’re getting sick and why you have these diseases. So one that would be my thing that’s exciting about the future of health care. Hopefully there’ll be a slight shift in how we view health and then also virtual telehealth. Those are exciting things. I never thought I really could treat patients outside of in person one to one. So being able to shift to an online space and be able to help way more people is exciting.

Rob Oliver: Okay. So when I was coming out of rehab, my occupational therapist was part of a team that actually came to my home and did a home assessment to see what could be done to make it as functional as possible. For me, you mentioned telehealth. Are you able to do those types of assessments virtually especially with occupational therapy? Seeing the individual in their environment, trying to accomplish the things that they’re working on is a really large part of that. How does the virtual nature of things impact those type of efforts?

Jordan Trinagel: Yeah. I mean, I think with even a home modification assessment like you’re talking about, people can be very creative with their Zoom in their webcam. Then if you kind of give me a tour around your house, I probably would be able to give recommendations. But I think it’s also yes, I may not necessarily be hands on with you facilitating movements and showing you exercises, but it might be a little bit more cognitive and like mental health therapy, because as OT, we also do focus on cognition and brain function and things like that also with children. So whether it’s caregiver, education or parent education kind of just providing them with tools and resources and just conversations that they can implement in their home, or maybe they can show me a video of, like, a demonstration, and then I can provide feedback. Yes, this is kind of a new world and a new age of technology. So I think we’ll have to trial and error a bunch of things, but it is cool to see that it is possible.

What can medical providers do to improve the quality of healthcare their patients receive?

Rob Oliver: Yeah, I definitely agree. And I think that’s one of the things that both you and I have mentioned when it comes to occupational therapy is the creativity side of things, trying to be creative, even in the way that you use the equipment that’s available when it comes to virtual visits and telehealth, and all of that all fits in with the modality of what we’re talking about. What is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of health care?

Jordan Trinagel: This is a tough question because I feel that in the healthcare world we’re very limited with our time that we can spend with patients. So I think quality versus quantity gets a little blurry. Like we are very pressured by administration and insurance to meet our productivity standards and see as many patients as possible. And then therefore quality goes down. But I think like you said, if you can really just go to the patient and ask them what they want and listen to them and hear their goals instead of tell them this is what they’re doing. I think that can alleviate a lot of stress and discouragement from the patient side, because instead of me going in and asserting wearing my white lab coat or scrubs or whatever and saying this is what it is and this is what you have. Why don’t we say, listen, ask them what they’re struggling with, what their worries are. And yes, it might take a little bit longer. It might be a full, lengthy conversation, but I feel like it’ll save time and frustration in the long run in general, because then you won’t have to be constantly going back and forth, especially in the hospital when there are so many teams that are treating the one patient, it’s like, why don’t we just listen to what they have to say? Why don’t we ask them the questions instead of just telling them the information? Because a lot of times I’m the one that is working with them for the most amount of time. They end up asking me all the questions and I can’t provide them the answers you have to ask your doctor, but I think it’s good for them to at least write some things down and think about what they want and try and discuss with the doctors. I know it is frustrating sometimes because maybe some health care professionals may not have the time or patience or energy. But I think a recommendation for any medical professional is just ask the patient the question.

Rob Oliver: Okay. I think it’s excellent advice. And what you’re saying, I think is make sure that the patient is included as part of that health care team, that they are part of the driving force of what happens. Listen, Jordan Triangle, thank you so much for being with me today. I appreciate you sharing your perspective on healthcare.

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Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.

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