Long-time Barbourville resident, Connie Hauser, PT, DPT, ATC, and her company, PT Pros, will celebrate their 35th year as providers of outpatient physical therapy services to residents of Knox County and the surrounding areas this month.
Hauser, a native of Kingsport, Tenn., received her BS in Health and Physical Education from East Tennessee State University in 1971 under extraordinary circumstances.
Hauser said, “While an undergraduate at ETSU, I worked as a caddy at a golf course to pay for school. An ophthalmologist named Dr. Douglas Crockett, who frequently visited the course, asked me to come to his office one day.
“His secretary told me that Dr. Crockett had placed me on one of his personal scholarships to ETSU. He did that for several students who had a work ethic he admired. He completely paid for my education, and we kept in touch through letters until his death.”
After gradating from ETSU she went on to earn her BHS of Physical Therapy from the University of Kentucky in 1974, and her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from A.T. Still University in 2005.
The first six years of her physical therapy career were spent working in Lexington and, during this time, Hauser credits Dr. G.J. Sweeney, an orthopedic surgeon, as being the catalyst in her decision to “take a chance” and step out into private practice. According to Hauser, Sweeney truly saw the value of outpatient physical therapy versus inpatient hospital care to better accommodate patients’ needs.
In July 1980, Hauser made the move to Barbourville, opening a contract physical therapy inpatient and outpatient site within the Knox County Hospital. There, she says, she received “Overwhelming support.”
“Ray Canady recruited me here, and the whole physician community was very supportive. It was a blessing,” said Hauser. “This first clinic had just 300 square feet, four treatment beds, and a staff of one physical therapist and one technician/secretary.”
As the demand for physical therapy increased, so did Hauser’s need for space. In early 1987, she opened her first free standng clinic near the current Barbourville facility location at 105 Liberty Street. Originally operating under the name Kentucky Physical Therapy, Hauser’s company grew to include several clinical sites in southeastern Kentucky.
“I didn’t have intentions to expand,” Hauser admits, “but my partner, Holly Johnson, said ‘I think I can start a clinic in Harlan,’ and the doors just seemed to open.”
An expansion into western North Carolina in 2002 prompted the company to change its name to PT Pros Physical Therapy and Sports Centers. In addition to the Barbourville location, PT Pros also currently operates outpatient clinics in Corbin, Harlan, Hazard, London, and Somerset and employs more than 60 full-time staff, including 17 doctoral-level PTs.
Hauser easily earned the respect and admiration of her employees. Devonda Carnes, who has been with the company for five years said, “She has a way with her patients, they are very laid back. It’s different than anything I’ve seen. They can relate to her, and she makes them feel special. She takes her time and listens to them.”
The esteem for Hauser is echoed by Angel Payne, PTA.
“I started working with Connie right out of high school. I started as a technician, later I was given the opportunity to continue school, and now I’m a PTA. I’ve always admired Connie for her work ethic. I’ve seen her help individual members of the community and do community service. I see that and want to be a part of it.”
Hauser’s dedication to her field was evident, even to her two children.
Her son, Gus Hauser, said, “Physical therapy wasn’t just a career to her, it was her passion. She loved and inspired her patients in a way that that only she can. I’ve always admired her work-family balance and the integrity in which she bases all of her decisions. To say I respect her would be an understatement.”
Hauser attributes her company’s success and longevity to always emphasizing quality care and ultimate customer service.
She says, “We’ve always stressed the importance of doing the right thing, not just the most convenient thing, when juggling the needs of our patients, communities, employees, and profession. Above all, we remember to practice with humility, and that the patient always comes first.”
Bridgett Smith Contributed to this article.