Good morning to you all! It is a cold morning in Michiana. You may be braving the weather here or lying on a beach somewhere, regardless I hope you are having a wonderful morning and a great start to the New Year!
I decided to share with you a brief history of my story and how I came to the Michiana area, as well as how McDonald Physical Therapy has developed over the last 29 years. My story, like most of ours is a bit unusual and at times confusing!
I'll take you back to another cold day in January, but this day took place on January 12, 1989. On that day I opened the doors to my physical therapy practice and by the end of the day I had seen one patient. On that morning I drove downtown to 416 East Monroe Street which was right across from the downtown post office. It was both scary and exciting. Scary, because I didn't know if my physical therapy skills and care would be good enough and exciting because I have always loved a challenge!
But even before that day I will take you further back to 1972. As a high school senior, I had received scholarship offers to a few colleges. My guidance counselor in Long Island, wanted me to stay on the east coast. She wanted me to go to Brown University, but I had other ideas. I wanted to go to Notre Dame and walk on to the football team. A team that had 120 scholarship players. Very few coaches in college cared about a non-scholarship player at that time. They didn't need extra bodies. Regardless, I took the challenge, got accepted to Notre Dame and was successful in walking on to the football team and my new vision on life began evolving. Up until then I had never left the state of New York. Living in a family of 12, I had never met many people outside our little town. All I knew was hard work on the boats and contributing the money I made to my parents to help make ends meet for our family. I enjoyed a very limited view of life. I didn't have any idea I would be walking into the most challenging four years of my life! Those four years at Notre Dame challenged me to the core. I truly wanted to quit and go home so many times, but for some reason (probably my upbringing), I stayed. These powerful experiences with more failure than I had ever experienced had strengthened me. The demands and challenges I faced there along with many failures helped me to not only grow up but also to grow more than I could have ever imagined.
So, it was with this kind of growth and drive that I took a chance and came back to the Michiana area thirteen years later. After teaching and coaching high school for 3 years, going back to New York to get my physical therapy degree (another 3 years), getting married, moving and working in North Carolina and then the Chicago suburbs, finally running a private practice, I felt my life was too busy and decided to restart a less hectic and more simple life in South Bend.
My clinic began, as stated above, on a cold day in January and I saw one patient. My wife and I had 2 young children and no real savings when I took this second risk in South Bend. I have no idea, why two of my most challenging experiences in my 63 years, began in the Michiana Community. What I can tell you that with all the difficulties, each time, with the help of so many remarkable people, I was able to rise above these difficulties and find joy in helping others.
As I mentioned before, I grew up one of ten children in a small village on Long Island. As I shared with you, I worked on fishing boats and on these boats, I dug clams with tongs most of my early life. The mere thought of becoming a physical therapist and trying to build a physical therapy clinic was nowhere in my mind back then. Let alone the thought of opening a clinic whose main focus would be to touch people's lives beyond their expectations. It wasn't until years of working for others and finally being frustrated with the fact that most medical facilities did not seem service oriented, that I decided to develop my own culture of care. It was, while living in the west suburbs of Chicago that I began a partnership with a good friend in 1986. For family reasons, I decided to move down and try to duplicate my care in the Michiana area in 1989. I never planned on moving from our 815-square foot office in the basement on Monroe. I began, alone for 5 months. Patients were wonderful and understanding. They actually paid me and sent in their own insurance, because they felt sorry for me being alone.
I somehow got lucky and hired a number of remarkable people to begin our journey. Sandy, Barb, Karen, Pam, Ken to name a few. There have also been many physicians that believed in our care and decided to give us a chance in the beginning. Most of these physicians still share their patients with us 29 years later. There are too many to mention, but a major contributor to our early success was Stephen Mitros, MD a remarkable orthopedic surgeon and someone I am so thankful to call one of my best friends.
From the first day, having one patient and thinking I would live happily ever after in our 815-square foot facility, to now, 29 years later and a much larger facility, we have continued to focus on touching our patients lives beyond their own expectations. We still answer all our phone calls. We still work from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. We still have no waiting in our waiting room. If your appointment is 8:00, we see you at 8:00. We still see patients sometimes Saturday and Sundays, when absolutely necessary.
The bottom line, we may be working in a larger building, but we have not changed the way we treat our patients. We have not forgotten that everyone that comes into our clinic is in a more vulnerable physical and emotional place then they would like. We know we need to listen, try to understand where they are coming from and help them heal both physically and emotionally. This has always been our mission and it will continue to be as long as the people of Michiana feel the need to walk into our clinic and ask us for help in getting them back to their life before injury.
Thanks so much for calling us, for coming in to see us and trusting us to help you get stronger every day. Thanks for coming in and allowing us to help you get back to playing sports, or walking, or lifting your children or grandchildren, and so many more of the life experiences you all need and care about so dearly. As we look forward to caring for you all during this 29th year, we hope you continue to think of us as your family physical therapy provider forever.
Enjoy the Journey,