By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS- “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease,” said Thomas Edison in 1902.
Today we’ll meet an innovative physical therapist whose focus aligns with this quote by bringing essential health resources closer to her hometown region.
Bethany Wallin is founder and CEO of a budding non-profit organization called Pivotal Health & Wellness. Wallin grew up on a four-generational farmstead near the rural community of Republic, population 82 people. Now, that’s rural.
“From a young age, community involvement through 4-H, school and sports planted the desire to volunteer and serve,” Wallin said. She earned her bachelors degree in Life Science from K-State and her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
She also married Clay, a fellow Republic Countian. They now have three children, ages six and younger, with another on the way.
Wallin has worked as a physical therapist for more than 11 years. After living and working in more urban locations, Wallin and her family moved back to Republic County where she took a physical therapy position at the hospital in Belleville
“We have an awesome team of health-care providers in our area who are doing their best to meet the needs of their patients,” Wallin said. ”Unfortunately, the gap continues to widen with regard to meeting those demands with the limited resources available, especially for our rapidly aging population. My business partner, Robin Carlson, and I saw an opportunity to better serve our hometown communities and bridge that gap.”
Several young families have moved back to the area, but the overall population is aging. “We wanted to cultivate a pathway for our residents that reduced such health care barriers as accessibility, cost and social isolation,” Wallin said.
Pivotal Health & Wellness opened in Courtland in January 2022, equipped with a fitness center, resource center and physical therapy clinic. The vision is to build stronger rural communities physically, mentally and emotionally across all age groups. As a nonprofit organization, they can provide free services to the uninsured and indigent patient populations.
“We want to shift the trajectory of healthcare in our rural communities from `sick care’ to `preventative care,’” Wallin said. “How can we take action now to help improve health outcomes and quality of life for our residents, especially our rapidly aging population? It was definitely a God nudge to do something more.”
Why the name Pivotal Health & Wellness? “Our health and well-being are pivotal aspects of what define us. It’s essential to protect our health beyond the absence of physical illness. In addition, I wanted to tie in the rich agricultural history of living in an irrigated grain belt landscaped by numerous center pivots.”
Pivotal Health & Wellness has signed up more than 50 members through the fitness center. Monica Thayer came on board recently as a Community Care Coordinator and has helped numerous individuals through end-of-life planning, insurance navigation, lowered prescription costs and benefit assistance programs.
“Monica is an extremely important asset to our organization and community. She has extensive knowledge about Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance and various programs and has helped to bring those resources to light,” Wallin said.
Future goals include completing the accreditation and licensing process that will allow the organization to accept Medicare, Medicaid, commercial health insurance plans and Veterans Affairs/Tricare. They also plan to launch a much-needed home health division.
“My grandparents are 90 years old and still living on the farm,” Wallin said. “We need to make sure that this population can continue to age in place safely.”
“We are offering another place and space that can bring these resources closer to home,” she said.
For more information, see www.pivotalhealthwellness.org.
We commend Bethany Wallin, Robin Carlson and Monica Thayer for making a difference with their services. Thomas Edison would approve.
And there’s more. Bethany’s husband Clay has hunted up a business of his own – and I mean that literally. We’ll learn about that next week.
Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.