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‘We didn’t know what the future held for the business as well as the community .’

john armstrong harrison consultants physical therapy
Owner, John Armstrong (right), and his associate, pose for a photo in front of Harrison Physical Therapy in May 2021. (Photo by Khysir Carter)

John Armstrong

Owner of Harrison Consultants Physical Therapy at 2034 E. Allegheny Ave. 

Interviewed in May 2021

Editor’s note: The following responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

1. How were things for you and your business in the beginning of the pandemic? How would you compare the state of your business from then to now?

A nightmare because we shut down. It was this very scary time. We didn’t know what the future held for the business as well as the community because nobody knew anything about the virus. Overall, we’re at about 30% of what was normal. We’re anxious that in July, we’ll get back to some degree of normal, even though we’ll never be totally normal.

2. Can you describe how the City of Philadelphia has supported business owners throughout the pandemic? Have you felt supported by the city?

I know a lot of businesses that have had problems with the City of Philadelphia’s lockdowns. In my opinion, it was done on the side of health first — not commerce — which resulted in businesses permanently closing, but lives were saved. Very difficult; tough decision. I would not have wanted to be in that position. And the livelihood of some of these businesses that have been around for generations are no longer there. 

The City was great with their first grant. That really helped me get through the first two months. The Kensington and Allegheny Business Association has been very supportive of me. I’ve been going to some of the virtual meetings with the New Kensington Business Association as well. So they’ve both been helpful.

3. Can you share your experience with managing safety in your business throughout the pandemic? (mask mandates, capacity restrictions, social distancing, etc.)

Well, we always wanted to be at the standard of safety, but we wanted to go a step above that. We do social distancing. We wear gloves, we wear masks, and we check temperatures. 

To this day, we haven’t resumed our pool [for physical therapy] because they haven’t ended the mask mandate. So hopefully, by the middle of next month, people will have records of vaccines, and we’ll be able to enter them into the aquatic program. There’s some places with pools now, but we wouldn’t want anybody to get sick because they came to therapy.

4. Can you share any moments in the last year where you faced a challenge that required you to find new ways to operate due to the pandemic?

Well, we had to change our schedule. We had to shut one office down. We had to stagger our appointments. We had to change the way we did evaluations and met patients. We also upgraded our sanitation processes.

5. What is the best way for people to support your business?

We want people to come to our physical therapy center and take advantage of what we have to offer. We’re client-focused, and we want them to have good results.

Editors: Khysir Carter, Jillian Bauer-Reese, Solmaira Valerio, Zari Tarazona / Designer: Henry Savage

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