This Woody Creek business delivers physical therapy straight to your door
Peg O’Brien, a Woody Creek resident, comes from a long line of women working in health care. Going back three generations, the matriarchal figures in her family were all nurses.
She grew up on a farm in Iowa, and her mother would take care of her neighbors with medical issues, which inspired O’Brien to do the same when she entered adult life. She now owns her a physical-therapy practice, delivering care straight to her neighbors’ doors in the Roaring Fork Valley with house calls.
In the ’80s, she became a certified-nurse’s aide, trained by her mother, who taught at the local community school in her home state.
“I come from many generations of women having interest in helping out neighbors, especially with medical issues,” said O’Brien.
She moved to the Roaring Fork Valley from De Moines in 1990, taking a job at an outpatient clinic in Carbondale. She, like many people in the valley, thought she would only be here for a couple of years — until she fell in love with the mountains.
“I was at a year and a half, and I was getting ready to go back to Iowa,” she said. “I thought I had seen it all. I thought I was ready to leave. Then I met friends with Jeeps and four-wheelers and dirt bikes.
“We went up in the mountains, and I realized ‘Oh, I have not seen anything,'” she said. “There is so much to this valley.”
She’s now been here for over 30 years, providing health care to the community in various ways throughout the decades.
In the early 2000s, she landed in Woody Creek. After working for both Columbine Home Health and the Carbondale Outpatient Clinic, she was looking for something different.
“I realized it was time for something new, but I didn’t know what it was,” said O’Brien. “So I wound up in Woody Creek, which I thought was also, as before, was going to be temporary.”
She noticed that the health-care options in the Woody Creek-area were “a little thin,” so she started her own free clinic.
“That free clinic was just a way to for me to get to know folks in the community and to do what I could to help strengthen individual health, health for a strong community,” she said.
At the same time, she was establishing her private practice Physical Therapy Delivered, which blends direct care to patients and consultant offerings — including training and education programs for health-care providers and non-medical personal care workers.
“It was very unusual for its time,” said O’Brien about her current practice. “I don’t know anyone else who tried it back then, but now many people do it.”
She wanted to offer the most direct way to help people “for the greatest value of individuals and the community,” she said.
She has now been operating her physical therapy business in the Roaring Fork Valley for close to 20 years now. In addition, she helps patients connect with health-care providers in the valley if they need further medical help.
“It’s interesting to see that all these different walks of life have the same needs,” she said. “They really need someone to listen to them and to extend a sincere helping hand. When you do that, everybody gets better.”
She is currently out-of-network, meaning patients pay 100% out-of-pocket. However, the cost for her care is eligible for health savings account (HSA) payments and flex plans.
“If there is a financial barrier to receiving care from me, and my care is important to address the condition, I will apply a sliding scale,” she said.
As ski season closes and we enter spring, O’Brien recommends those with discomfort do the following things: Find comfortable positions, apply ice to areas in pain, and stay super hydrated. In addition, she recommends stretching your calves and hamstrings regularly.
For hikers and backpackers excited to hit the trails, she recommends using hiking poles to increase tricep work and decrease back pain.
“With all the excellent medical care and the extreme diversity of the beloved members of this community, the upper Roaring Fork Valley is an excellent and rewarding place to work as a physical therapist,” said O’Brien.
To reach Kristen Mohammadi, call 304-650-2404 or email email@example.com.
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