The day I first mentioned moving to Alaska to start a physical medicine practice, my wife, Coni, thought I had gone mad. Why would we move from sunny California to a place that was 3,000 miles away from our families? A place filled with grizzly bears, wandering moose, igloos, and freezing weather? Her reaction really wasn’t too surprising. After all, isn’t that what all our “lower 48” friends and family think of Alaska?

We knew one thing for certain when we got here–we wanted to create a unique practice. We wanted to offer many things that no one else was providing. We wanted to create a practice that was the exact opposite of my own personal experience in a doctor’s waiting room in 1997.

During my hour-long wait for the doctor, I endured coffee-stained magazines, brown water stains on the ceiling tiles, a gruff receptionist who spent her days watching Jerry Springer on the waiting room TV, and a medical assistant who barked “follow me” with the all the warmth and formality of a military sergeant. Once I finally made it into the doctor’s office, I sat in my paper gown, bottom exposed, shivering in the chilly air for an additional 15 minutes before the doctor made his unapologetic appearance. I think he actually heard about two percent of the things I said, but at least he nodded his head a lot.

This experience created a burning desire to create a practice that would be completely centered on the patient–both by the professional services we rendered, as well as the aspect of what the patient experiences in the office (smiling faces, great customer service, and the desire and willingness to listen).

I wanted our patients to feel comfortable in our office. I wanted their care to be convenient, personalized, effective, and a good value. I wanted our patients to trust us, and believe we were truly committed to their care. But most of all, I wanted them to feel hope. Hope that transformation was possible and that they would experience real relief, real long-lasting results, and an improved quality of life.

We strove to be an innovative clinic by being also Anchorage’s exclusive provider of advanced treatments, such as the Decompression Reduction Stabilization (DRS) therapy for low back pain and the Multi-Cervical Unit (MCU) for neck pain.

We wanted to create many unique customer-service related benefits, such as same-day appointments, a 10-minute wait guarantee, and a first visit guarantee. We wanted to offer patients research-based wellness education programs to help them to better understand and take care of their bodies. We wanted the clinic to provide quick, appropriate, and easy referrals to specialists outside its own areas of expertise.

Most importantly, we wanted to know we made real differences in the lives of our patients. I was recently thumbing through the hundreds of testimonial forms we’ve collected over the years, reading the success stories told by our patients. Patients like Marlene Blalock, who was referred to our office from an enthusiastic coworker. She had so much pain that she could no longer participate in her favorite hobby–gardening. I’m happy to report that she has her “green thumb” back, and can tackle even the largest horticultural project. She says that she “brags about how compassionate and considerate the staff is” and that she always received excellent customer service and treatment.

The approach certainly worked for another patient of ours, Norma, who said, “By doing the chiropractic, physical exercises, and massage therapy, I was able to get longer-lasting results. Plus, it was so great having all the treatments in one place. I can’t spend an hour driving across town for an appointment. But Better Health has patient-friendly hours. I could go in after work at 6:00 p.m. I could even make Saturday appointments. Plus, they had two offices near our home,” Norma said. “This allowed me to get in, get out and get on with my day!”

Or, Janet Craig, a widower who said that she hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in years, because of excruciating neck pain and discomfort. She said she had only managed to keep working because she came to Better Health for treatment. She said that we helped her to avoid neck surgery after being told she would need it. Now she’s sleeping like a baby.

Testimonials like these keep us going. We realized that by creating a multidisciplinary clinic, we could utilize a team approach to providing a full range of effective, conservative treatments, including chiropractic care, physical rehabilitation, and massage therapy, as well as other complementary therapies. So far, our leading-edge treatments and therapies, combined with our team approach, have proven to be much more effective than drugs or surgery alone in addressing spine-related disorders, and other pain problems.

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