A Multi-Prong Approach To Wellness

By Dan Heath The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

PLATTSBURGH

A new home for Pearl Physical Therapy is evolving into a gem of collaborative health and wellness providers.

Owner Elizabeth Pearl used the move of her business to 135 South Peru St. to create Adirondack Integrative Wellness, which features not only physical therapy but practitioners of acupuncture, massage therapy, nutrition, mental-health counseling and art therapy.

"I have always been interested in a collaborative wellness approach," Pearl said.

SHARED PHILOSOPHY At the core is Pearl Physical Therapy, a full-service therapy clinic that provides orthopedic, sports medicine and neurological rehabilitation.

It occupies more than half of the space.

Pearl started the practice in 2009, after several years working at Meadowbrook Healthcare's Subacute Rehabilitation Department.

A Plattsburgh native, she graduated from St. John's Academy and then earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Russell Sage College in 1991.

That was followed by a master's degree in physical therapy from the University of Maryland at Baltimore in 2000.

She worked in that field in Baltimore and then Delaware before she returned to Plattsburgh in 2006. Pearl then took the chance to open her own practice on Court Street.

Pearl said that within a few years at the former location, she realized the rapidly growing practice would need more room.

She had already welcomed Stacy Herron and Alyssa Crockett to the team after they received their doctor of physical therapy degrees from Ithaca College.

She looked at a number of potential properties but said she was fortunate to wait until Dr. Victor Castine's former office became available.

Pearl and her staff, friends and family did a lot of the renovations. Now, each provider and therapist has individual treatment/office space.

The newest addition is Mark Pellerin, also a doctor of physical therapy. He came on board Aug. 24, a direct result of the expansion opportunity that the move provided.

Pearl said they all share her philosophy toward physical therapy.

"I've been very blessed in finding people that are as passionate about the work as I am," she said.

The staff at Pearl Physical Therapy also includes Executive Office Manager Samantha Farina and Front Office receptionist Julie Simpson.

HAND-PICKED Pearl said the concept of providing multiple health and wellness services under one roof has been a personal goal for several years, now come to fruition with the creation of Adirondack Interactive Wellness.

Pearl can also assist other small-business owners. The various providers benefit from a shared-services approach to the facility's day-to-day operation, all within a professional yet relaxing atmosphere, she said.

"This allows them to concentrate on what they do best," Pearl said.

Three other providers round out the services available.

"I've hand-picked every tenant that's in here," Pearl said. Each is owned and operated independently, with space leased under Adirondack Interactive Wellness.

MENTAL HEALTH Licensed mental-health counselor and board-certified art therapist Dove Phillips is a native of the Adirondack region with 12 years experience in her chosen field.

Phillips received a bachelor's degree in studio art with a minor in psychology at SUNY Plattsburgh. She helped start the art-therapy minor at that university before she earned a graduate degree in art therapy at Springfield College in Massachusetts.

After working adolescents with autism in the Burlington area, she returned to Plattsburgh in 2003 and worked with clients of all ages in the mental-health field.

Phillips returned to teach Intro to Art Therapy at SUNY Plattsburgh, which she continues as she embarks on this new path.

"I was looking to go out on my own," she said. "By happenstance, I crossed paths with Elizabeth. It was a good fit."

She joined Adirondack Integrative Wellness in July and said word is slowly spreading of what she has to offer.

While language-based therapy tends to be very linear, art therapy allows the client and provider to examine many different aspects from one picture.

That offers a different way to explore your psyche and resolve issues and become whole, Phillips said.

That goal is what makes being part of the team approach at Adirondack Integrative Wellness attractive to her.

ACUPUNCTURE, MASSAGE Florence Reynaud is a licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist.

Her interest in alternative health-care methods started with her grandmother, Madeleine "Mam" Velo, who is now 100 years old and lives in France.

Mam learned about herbal medicine and acupuncture in the 1980s, as she looked for a means to treat her own knee pain. "She's my mentor to this day," Reynaud said.

Reynaud enrolled at the Sutherland Chan School of Massage Therapy in Toronto in 1988.

She later enrolled in the acupuncture program at College Rosemont in Montreal and graduated there in 1994.

She has worked in acupuncture and other forms of oriental medicine for more than 26 years, in Toronto, Montreal, Baltimore and most recently from an office in Boynton Square in Plattsburgh.

She first met Pearl in 2010, and the two hit it off right away.

"She liked what I did, and I liked what she did," Reynaud said. "We were on the same wavelength."

That was to work with a group of therapists under one roof to offer patients different perspectives on the path to wellness, Reynaud said.

"Health care is not one size fits all. That is why all of these services fit together," she said.

NUTRITION Jo Dragoon Morse is a registered dietitian who is available for consultation on medical nutrition therapies, hypertension, cholesterol/triglyceride maintenance, food allergies, renal disease, weight management, oncology, Type II diabetes, geriatric nutrition and general healthy eating practices.

A native of Chazy, Morse received a bachelor of science degree in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She then spent several years as a clinical dietitian at Brigham and Women's Hospital and New England Baptist Hospital in Boston.

She works two days a week at University of Vermont Health Network, Elizabethtown Community Hospital in clinical nutrition and offers classes in outpatient cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation.

Morse had 21 years of experience as a consulting registered dietitian for the Clinton County Office for the Aging. She continues to work one day a week as a registered dietitian for the local ARC.

"I'm now gradually moving into private practice," she said.

She is excited about the chance to be part of the whole team approach to health now offered through Adirondack Integrative Wellness.

"We are all very passionate about what we do," she said. "I'm excited about how this can evolve to serve the community by giving a patient the whole package."

Pearl hopes to increase the focus on collaborative health care in the next six months or so.

She wants to offer clients the opportunity to take part in multi-provider evaluations and diagnostic meetings. "That would serve the client well and the provider well," Pearl said.

TO LEARN MORE --Pearl Physical Therapy is open from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 563-7777 or visit pearlphysicaltherapy.com. --Mental-health counselor and art therapist Dove Phillips is available by appointment, including some evenings. Call her at 637-3926. --Florence Reynaud, licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist, has office hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday. Call or text 593-4254 to schedule an appointment.

--Registered dietitian Jo Dragoon Morse can be reached for an appointment at 569-0884.

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