The impact of the janitor on an occupational therapy practice

Owning a private practice is a never-ending adventure that usually causes the owner to take on many different job roles.  This Saturday I put on my janitor clothes and tried to take care of some things that were starting to turn from minor annoyances to full blown problems.

I am not embarrassed to talk about the presence of these things that need fixing or adjusting, mostly because I have a comfort level with the humble nature of our mom-and-pop therapy shop. The families that come to us seem to understand that, I think, because sharing stories about the tribulations of trying to get things done probably resonates with the busy and complicated lives that they are also leading.

The only problem is that I am not a janitor, or even a poor excuse for one.  That means that only sometimes I get things right.  So I cheered as I won a battle against the broken copier,  looked proudly on my successful taming of the broken heating vent - but then I met my match.

I could not repair the broken lighting ballast in the evaluation room. 

At first I thought it was just a matter of changing the long fluorescent tubes.  That didn't work.  Then I thought that perhaps the fuse was tripped down in the basement.  That wasn't it.  I jiggled things.  I poked at things.  I avoided electrocuting myself, but I was defeated.

So I did what any good janitor would do: I got another light on a temporary basis until someone who knew what they were doing could intervene.

 It looked like a fun option, but I had no idea what a 'hit' it would become.  Every child that enters that now (slightly dark) room falls in love with that stupid lamp and they all ask the same thing with a sense of wonderment: "Who brought that lamp here?"

The lamp is taking on mythical qualities.  The kids just stare at it in awe.  My favorite response came from a little four year old - and there is no way I can capture the cute-ness in written form, but just imagine the most beautiful child in the world staring up at you from knee-height saying from the bottom of their heart, "Oh Dr. Chris.  I love your lamp!"

Because I am teaching part time my staff keeps in contact with me via text or email or phone throughout the day when I am at the college.  Now the lamp is being incorporated into handwriting practice.  I got this letter today:

 So the janitor at ABC Therapeutics wants to make a recommendation to all aspiring pediatric private practice owners...


And then tell the janitor not to bother fixing the broken fluorescent lights.

It will make you the most revered occupational therapist in the entire practice.


Unknown said…
Greetings Chris! It's been years since we'very sooken. I loved you post ... I can truly relate. You are doing great work. Jim Herzog, OT
Thanks Jim! Great to hear from you!!! I hope you are doing well - please give me a call sometime and we can talk old war stories LOL! - Chris
lej said…
I love this! Who would have guessed that a lamp would be so life-changing?
Unknown said…
One of the greatest gifts I received from learning how to troubleshoot computers was that it forced me to practice finding a workaround. With this lamp, form captivates your clients even as it functions. So I ask you-how else can your office engage them with wonder? Take a sledgehammer to the utilitarian (turn off the water though should you start with the toilet).

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