PROFILE: Georgetown Chiropractic Clinic PC: Demand spurs chiropractor to grow clinic Massage, Pilates, yoga classes round out northwest-side practice

July 2, 2007

P RO F I L E Georgetown Chiropractic Clinic PC Demand spurs chiropractor to grow clinic Massage, Pilates, yoga classes round out northwest-side practice

If life gives you a pain in the neck, chances are you've sought relief from a specialist at working out the kinks-like Georgetown Chiropractic Clinic PC.

Chiropractic use has tripled in the last two decades, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. To accommodate some of that growth locally, Georgetown Chiropractic has doubled its space in the last few years and plans to hire a second chiropractor soon, said owner Sheila Wilson.

Like many of her colleagues, Wilson also has broadened her services by offering patients access to massage therapy, yoga and Pilates classes.

"Both chiropractic and yoga recognize the importance of spinal health and balance," said Angela Kargus, director of public and media relations for the American Chiropractic Association. "They share complementary goals of maintaining mobility of bones, joints and muscles."

Wilson, president of the association's Council on Sports Injuries and Physical Fitness, is one of about 1,000 licensed chiropractors in Indiana and 60,000 in the United States.

She grew up in a chiropractic family. Her fate was sealed as a teen-ager in Kansas City, Kansas, when her father took it up as a second career.

"I always knew I wanted to be some type of health professional and as I got older and grew up around chiropractic, I saw that it was exactly what I wanted to do," said Wilson, 36, who graduated from Pittsburg State University in Kansas.

Shortly after her 1995 graduation from the Cleveland Chiropractic College in Kansas City, she moved to Indianapolis and began working. She bought an existing practice in 1998 and renamed it the Georgetown Chiropractic Clinic.

She said she knew a lot about the chiropractic field, but less about running a business. But she worked with an attorney who also was an accountant to develop a business plan, which she shopped around at area banks.

"It was hard to find a banker. I knocked on a lot of doors. They kept telling me I knew a lot about the clinic and [the plan] was all right, but that I didn't have experiences with the finances," she said.

With guidance from the doctor who was selling her the clinic, she eventually was able to land a $175,000 loan backed by the U.S. Small Business Association through National City Bank to buy the practice, furnishings, equipment and patient list.

"Over time, I've learned a lot about working with employees and that certain people grow with the business and certain people don't," she said. "I have an excellent staff now."

Insurance benefits and payments also are a challenge for her and most other medical practitioners, she said. Reimbursements rarely cover the cost of services, and more of the expenses are shifted to the patient.

Owning a practice is very time-consuming "which would be difficult if you didn't love it," Wilson said. "You have to have a passion for it. I love going to work."

When she bought the clinic, the previous owner mailed letters to the patients, which Wilson followed up with a letter of her own. She also has developed a reputation among athletes and people with active lifestyles, who go to her for help when they are injured. She's active in various sporting events, including the recent AT&T USA Track and Field Championships in Indianapolis.

"She's really excellent at what she does," said John Ramsey Sr., a pastor at New Life Worship Center and a former athlete who ran track and played football in college. He has been going to Wilson since she moved to Indianapolis.

"She does so much more than chiropractic," Ramsey said. "She works on sports injury rehabilitation. I tore my Achilles tendon and had surgery three years ago and she helped me with the rehabilitation. Today, I can't tell the difference."
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