Paul Wünsch’s 1975 racing bike. Miss you, Uncle Paul.
Prior to working for Mobility Management (and you), I worked for a motorcycle industry publication. Imagine Harley-Davidson and Husqvarna instead of Quantum Rehab and Permobil, and motorcycle dealers instead of seating and mobility clinicians and ATPs.
As managing editor, working with our columnists was one of my jobs. Among our most revered writers was Paul Wünsch, wise and cantankerous owner of Love Cycles in Houston. Uncle Paul, as he was known, had been a famous motorcycle racer in his younger days. After that, he became known for his wrench-spinning.
Uncle Paul was a champion of the motorcycle dealership owner, aka, a small business owner trying to make a living by doing good work. When Uncle Paul or one of his mechanics made a mistake, he always told the affected customer, “We’ll make it right.” It’s a mindset I try to uphold to this day.
But recently, my former publisher, Robin Hartfiel, reminded me of another “Wünschism”: It’s okay to get paid for doing good work. Uncle Paul was talking about motorcycle building and repair, but he could have been referring to complex rehab technology (CRT).
Uncle Paul’s statement made me wonder: When did it become a sin to run a successful, legitimate business? Why is it terrible to charge a fair price for quality work? CRT profit margins are notoriously thin, and CRT costs are a minuscule part of Medicare’s budget. ATPs get called to make repairs on Sunday nights, Christmas eve and every time in between… and they go!
Why then is it wrong to also want to pay the utility bills and make payroll on time? Funding sources and consumers expect clinicians and ATPs to stay up to date on life-changing technology and best practices. Don’t they understand that those things (and the vans that deliver chairs, and the gas that fuels those vans) cost money? Funding sources and consumers want technology to evolve and improve — to offer more function, fewer compromises, greater access to multiple environments. Don’t they know that product development, design and testing cost money?
This issue deals, at least tangentially, with this topic over and over. See, for instance, our conversation with Gerry Dickerson (MMBeat, page 12), which includes a hot dog cart metaphor I’ve often attributed to the late great Simon Margolis. See the alternative drive controls story (page 21) that discusses more inclusive mobility choices than ever for young children. And then check out John Goetz’s advice on how CRT can better advocate for itself… since it’s easy to feel that the only voices speaking up for CRT are the ones within the industry.
Uncle Paul was right: It’s okay to get paid for doing good work. You deserve that, and you’re worth it. It’s in all our best interests, payors’ and consumers’ too, that CRT continues to evolve. We shouldn’t be scared to tell that truth.