Walk in to Lago Vista Physical Therapy and you’re likely to catch the tail end of a lively exchange between patients.
From a stationary bicycle, one gentleman notes how crazy expensive it is to replace a bumper these days.
Exercising on a set of steps, another patient says he knows a guy — the best guy — who does body work for less. A series of beep sounds, and it’s time for the first patient to move on to his next drill.
No More Barstools
Conversations like these delight Nancy Coldicott, who started Lago Vista Physical Therapy in January 2000.
“We are different,” she explains. “We’re the new Cheers. Thirty years ago all those people would be sitting on barstools. Now they’re in PT.”
“Everyone wants to be known, valued, and heard,” Coldicott points out, and that’s the goal of her private practice. It’s more than just healing the body, and as a sole proprietor she can treat her patients as she sees fit.
Coldicott chafes against what she sees as a common corporate health-care model, where paper pushers admonish caregivers to spend less time with patients and maximize profit.
“I hate it that health care has to be about money,” she says. “It should be about taking care of people.”
As a business owner, Coldicott can treat patients the way she feels is right.
“I wouldn’t have made a very good employee,” she says. “If I see something that needs doing a certain way, I just can’t watch it done the wrong way.”
Coldicott has been blessed, she says, that great therapists have always come to work for her. “The best,” she calls her employees.
Over the years, she explains, the profession of physical therapy has changed, gaining credibility. Credentials that took a bachelor’s degree at one time now require a doctorate.
The therapists she employs show that progression. Marco Jimenez, the youngest, has a doctorate from Angelo State University.
Gail Dankis has been practicing for thirty-five years, and when she started, a bachelor’s degree was all that was offered.
Laura Bishop-Bass is a veteran of thirty-plus years as a physical therapist assistant.
Coldicott herself has a master’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
Together, they work where “everybody knows your name.” Coldicott, who grew up in Lubbock, feels that Lago Vista is a special kind of place.
“I couldn’t do what I do in downtown Austin,” she says, “or even if Lago had fifty thousand people.”
Adamant about loving small-town life, Coldicott says, “I live in this community and it’s the community I want to serve.” Knowing her neighbors facilitates the warm ambience that she’s created in her business.
At one point she started a second branch of her private practice in Leander, which she sold last year. She doesn’t regret giving expansion a try, but “it was just too much for me to have two clinics, three kids, and a husband.”
Having It All
Coldicott’s three daughters were all born at the same time. Just two years after getting her business off the ground, she discovered that three babies were on the way.
A good friend and fellow therapist stepped up to run things during her maternity leave. That stretched beyond the six weeks they originally planned; Coldicott was able to take four years off from daily operations. When her friend returned to school to become a physician assistant, Coldicott was ready to return.
Just Like Family
The Coldicott daughters, now teenagers, love the patients. The girls bake birthday cakes and bring in other treats. And the patients ask about the triplets, too, following their progress in school and activities. “We really are a family,” Coldicott says.
Looking around the bright room, you see smiling therapists and patients who only grimace once in a while as they go through the sometimes-painful motions necessary to heal. It’s easy to believe that family is what they really are.