The staff of the new Wholistic Healing Clinic on Main Street in Ronan aims to cut through the red tape of corporate medical practices in order to give their patients control over their own health care.
Spearheaded by owner and head nurse practitioner Amy Johnson, the clinic seeks to combine more traditional medicine with alternative therapies and treatments in order to help each patient meet their personal goals.
“My philosophy is I am there as a part of your team, if you’re a patient of mine,” Johnson said. “We’re a team, and my job is to tell you what my knowledge base is, to educate you and then you’re your own boss.”
Johnson grew up as part of the Ronan community and spent the majority of her career as a medical provider working at St. Luke Community Healthcare and Tribal Health.
During her tenure at both facilities, Johnson gained the respect and admiration of the team she now employs, all of whom jumped in head-first when she opened her own practice.
Medical Assistant Celena Ramirez worked alongside Johnson for six years at St. Luke, during which time she said they bonded not only as coworkers but also as close friends.
“When Amy left St. Luke, she left me with a promise that she was going to open her own clinic and when she did she would want me to join her,” Ramirez said.
A year later, when she got the call from Johnson saying it was happening, Ramirez said there was no way she wasn’t going to jump on board.
Australian native Geof Rohrlach, another coworker from St. Luke, said he often disagreed with what he felt was an impersonal, textbook approach other physicians took with their patients.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating to not know why a provider is going a certain route when there’s other alternatives,” he said.
As a nurse with 20 years of experience, Rohrlach said he respected Johnson’s commitment to a more holistic approach when possible, as well as her desire to gain more complete knowledge of her patients in order to best help them.
“We aren’t just thinking on the pathological side or the pharmaceutical side,” he said. “We’re looking at how everything works.”
After completing the educational requirements to become a nurse practitioner, Rohrlach followed Johnson in her endeavor to create a more complete health-care option for families and individuals within their community.
“We get to know people. We know their families. We know their social situations,” Johnson said. “We inquire about those things and we intervene.”
“I take as much time as I need,” she added.
Though trained, qualified and practiced in traditional Western medicine, Johnson said she aims to create a truly integrative health system, offering traditional medications, essential oil treatments, medicinal teas, acupuncture and massage therapy.
“We’re bringing the West and the East, if you will, kind of together under one roof,” she said.
Johnson said she made the decision to leave her former health organizations because she felt “boxed in” by a lot of the political aspects and red tape she encountered on a corporate level.
Inspired by a tragic accident in the summer of 2018 that killed her 17-year-old daughter, Johnson said she felt driven to take a leap of faith and make a change.
“It is a scary thing to do for sure, to leave that security nest of a guaranteed salary,” she said. “I decided that the only way I was going to be able to practice the way I wanted to practice is if I did it on my own.”
Her childhood friend and clinic nurse, Missy Peterson, shared her goal of making a difference within the community in which they’d both grown up.
“We both kind of just seem to have the same thought process of what health care should be, the ideal, and how to best to help the people who are here.”
Together, the staff of four opened their doors this October with hopes of eventually expanding their facility, their team and their reach.
“One of the guidelines for me is if we’re going to be in this that we’re all going to participate in making the community healthier by putting our boots on the ground and actually going out of these walls and being part of something,” Johnson said.
She also hopes to soon offer some nutrition and fitness programs geared toward families.
“It feels like a family here,” Rohrlach said. “I feel like that’s what people are sensing when they walk through the door, that this is not just some fly-by-night, another medical clinic.”
For more information about Wholistic Healing, visit their Facebook page.