ImpactSpring 2013

Healing hands

Morrisa Rogers ’03 and her best friend, Tanaeya Burch, used to joke about how cool it would be to open a business together in Bermuda. Little did they know that 20 years later, their idea would actually come true. Both native Bermudians, Morrisa and Tanaeya left the island to attend Andrews University in Michigan. Tanaeya studied physical therapy and Morrisa studied Spanish, though she knew that occupational therapy was her real goal. She then came to the University of Indianapolis and earned her master’s degree in occupational therapy.

Morrisa returned to the island in 2008 and reconnected with Tanaeya, who was working down the hall from her at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Hamilton. The two women began talking and formulated a plan to open a clinic of their own. In April 2012, they opened InTouch Therapy in central Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda.InTouch Therapy was opened with the goal of offering more programs and services than are available at the hospital, the primary source for therapy for most Bermudians. Many of the island’s 65,000 residents receive care at the hospital, which is fully covered by insurance. People who visit a private practice have to pay some out-of-pocket costs, which is one of the challenges that concerned Morrisa and Tanaeya when they opened up shop. However, the cost of treatment doesn’t seem to be slowing down the business. InTouch has had a full roster of patients and is even looking at hiring an assistant in the near future. Last October, they partnered with a dietician who works out of the InTouch office and are hoping to one day add a speech therapist to the mix.

“We envision a place where clients can come and have all their needs met,” explains Morrisa. The women are part of a growing movement in Bermuda of physical therapists and occupational therapists setting up private practices. OT and PT is relatively new on the island, having been introduced in the late 1970s. Tanaeya started the island’s first lymphedema clinic at the hospital in 2007 and she offers treatment for that and other diagnoses at InTouch, such as oncology rehabilitation and pelvic rehabilitation. Morrisa provides basic OT needs and hand therapy, which focuses on splinting and issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome or traumatic injuries such as cut tendons.

Another element that Morrisa is hoping to add is a driving rehabilitation program. That kind of program is popular in places such as the United States, Australia, and Canada, but not yet in Bermuda. I can bring that skill here and show people how it would benefit them,” says Morrisa. “I would like to offer this as a service to the community, and having a private practice allows you to have a vision and take the initiative to make it happen.”

Though she works full time at the mental health hospital as the Allied Health Supervisor and has part-time and weekend hours at the clinic, Morrisa is spending as much time as she can trying to figure out what services will be the most beneficial to the community at the clinic. “I try to think about where we can go next and what the residents of the island need,” she explains. “Even though the island is only 21 square miles, there is minimal home healthcare, for example. That might be an area that we can reach into and help with some needs.”

She serves on the Board of Occupational Therapists and is chairing the Bermuda Occupational Therapy Association, both of which are giving her great experience and career opportunities. And when she has a few spare minutes, she takes time to go salsa dancing, sing, and enjoy her hobby of photography.

“Being here in Bermuda has given me career opportunities that I wouldn’t be able to easily obtain elsewhere,” she says. “We are working hard to meet the needs of the residents and we’re excited by where the future may take us.”

Photo: Tanaeya Burch (left) and Morrisa Rogers of InTouch Therapy (Photo by Glenn Tucker, the Royal Gazette)

the authorMarty