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Battle Creek pediatric therapy clinic adapting to insurance changes

Dominic O'Brien, 8, and his mother, Heather Mason, participate in a therapy session with Functional Kids Therapy owner and occupational therapist Maria Dobbertien on Aug.  10, 2022, in Battle Creek.
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Dominic O'Brien, 8, and his mother, Heather Mason, participate in a therapy session with Functional Kids Therapy owner and occupational therapist Maria Dobbertien on Aug.  10, 2022, in Battle Creek.

Dominic O’Brien rolled through a “squeeze machine” as Maria Dobbertien guided the 8-year-old toward his mother during a summer physical therapy session.

“You’re a Dominic burger!” Dobbertian exclaimed.

Dobbertien is the owner of Functional Kids Therapya pediatric occupational, physical and speech therapy practice now adapting to some insurance changes that she predicted would affect her patients in terms of wait times and travel expenses.

She opened in 2014, growing it 27 employees between three locations in Battle Creek, Caledonia and Schoolcraft and filling a void for the specialized services in southwest Michigan.

“When Maria came to town, it was ‘aha!’” said Heather Mason, O’Brien’s mother. “(Dominic) is like a total care package kiddo. Anything and everything we can gain on: eating, moving his tong, fine motor, sitting and supporting himself for a few moments…. We were traveling to Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo, and it was still sub-par. And in Michigan winters, what do you do?”

Dominic O'Brien, 8, and his mother, Heather Mason, participate in a therapy session with Functional Kids Therapy owner and occupational therapist Maria Dobbertien on Aug.  10, 2022, in Battle Creek.

Because there are few pediatric outpatient therapy clinics in the region, Dobbertein said the Battle Creek location draws clients from all over Calhoun County and the surrounding area. But a recent change to insurance coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield that took effect Oct. 1 is impacting how services are provided and billed, creating issues for patients like O’Brien who require multiple services.

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