David Herrington, PT, of Mississippi, and Victor Vaughan, PT, of Connecticut, were presented with the State Legislative Leadership Award by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) at the APTA’s State Government Affairs Forum in Minneapolis. Each year, the award is given to an individual who demonstrates outstanding leadership in the area of state legislative issues and promotes initiatives that preserve, protect, and advance the practice of physical therapy. This year, because of the high volume of qualified candidates, the award was presented to two APTA members.

“Victor and David were an instrumental part of key legislative successes this year,” says APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD. “Victor and David exemplify the leadership and determination needed to help further the physical therapy profession through legislative efforts. Their dedication is an example and inspiration for the profession.”

Herrington has served as the Mississippi chapter’s state legislative chair and chapter president. As president, Herrington initiated the Mississippi Chapter efforts to improve patient access to physical therapist services. He met with the governor, lieutenant, and other key elected officials, and secured a bill sponsor. On March 29, 2006, after a 2-year campaign spearheaded by Herrington, Mississippi became the 40th state to achieve direct access, under certain conditions, for patients to see their physical therapist without having to wait for a physician’s referral. The new law allow direct access for patients seeking fitness and wellness care, injury prevention, or who have a previously diagnosed condition. The law also allows physical therapists to provide services to treat children who have a diagnosed developmental disability, as part of a home health care agency, and also to patients in skilled nursing facilities all pursuant to the patient’s plan of care.

“It is an honor and a privilege to accept this award on behalf of all the efforts, hard work, and diligence of the entire Mississippi chapter in achieving direct access for patients to physical therapist services,” he says.

Vaughan, who has served as state legislative chair of the Connecticut Physical Therapy Association for the last decade, made direct access a primary goal for the chapter. Vaughan developed relationships with legislators and lobbyists, attended numerous events to speak about the importance of improving access to physical therapist services, and testified at committee hearings. On June 2, 2006, Connecticut became the 42nd state to pass direct access legislation that eliminates, under certain conditions, the physician referral requirement for patients needed physical therapist services.

“it was a huge honor to be recognized in this was by the APTA and its Board of Directors,” he says. “After 10 years of working, it is an amazing feeling to have achieved direct access in Connecticut.”

[SOURCE: APTA, September 19, 2006]