Alaska, Announcements, Health

Long Standing Business Partners with Anchorage Firm

The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning; to create a product or service to make the world a better place.” Guy Kawasaki

Active Abilities Physical Therapy is excited to announce that they will be partnering with Advanced Physical Therapy of Anchorage.  Owner of Active Abilities PT and long time resident of Seward, Tina McLean, says the decision was an easy one.

Advanced Physical Therapy has been in business in Alaska for 13 years and has clinics throughout the state in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Wasilla, and Soldotna.  Ms. McLean has studied and worked with Advanced Physical Therapy through the International Academy of Orthopedic Medicine for the last eight years.  Of them she says, “They have taught me much about hands-on, scientifically based care.  I have held their owner, Valerie Phelps, and their therapists in great esteem over the years as they are remarkably different than many clinics I have worked in.  They care deeply about the patient and the outcomes of their treatment.  They aren’t just there for a job.  They have a thirst for learning and providing the best treatments possible based on accurate diagnosis of the problem.  That philosophy has always been my priority in treating patients here in Seward.  It came natural to consider them for partnership in assuring this business remained in Seward”

Active Abilities PT, previously Active Alaskan PT, has had long standing success in the community but not without some unexpected detours, blind curves and mountains to negotiate.   Ms. McLean opened Active Alaskan Physical Therapy in 1999, in the Walaska Business Center, after serving as Clinical Director of the Rehabilitation department at Providence Seward Medical Center for five years.  She left PSMC in hopes of creating a specialized and advanced service for the people she loved and treated.

The business grew quickly.   In 2004, a local entrepreneur and investor made it possible to expand and continue growth.   It relocated to a beautiful new facility at Mile 5 of the Seward Hwy, concentrating in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.  There, it further expanded to include therapeutic vacation packages and lodging to tourist with ailments.  With 11 employees and multiple contracted services throughout the community and Peninsula it seemed the initial goal was being achieved.

However, in 2006, disaster struck.   Along with severe Medicare and Federal funding cut of 60% on all payments for services, a flood event occurred in Seward devastating over 45 homes in the community.  The clinic and Ms. McLean’s home was among them.  In spite of recovery efforts on the part of many, continued flooding threats and rising Medicare deficits, the business was forced to close in October 2007.  Ms. McLean relocated to Anchorage in November of that year.   She worked for Alaska Native Medical Center Home Based Services for 6 months.  In May of 2008, with dreams of moving back to Seward, she opened a practice in Anchorage under the name of Active Abilities Physical Therapy.  She worked in a small office from which she provided hands on care and contract services throughout Anchorage, Mat-Su Valley and Eagle River.


In December 2009, with the help of her husband and many local supporters, the dream of returning to Seward was realized.  Active Abilities Physical Therapy was opened in a small space in downtown Seward owned by Hugh and Iris Darling.  Almost immediately the business began to re-grow and new employees were hired.  In March of 2012, the business out grew its space downtown and relocated once again to the Walaska Business Center at Mile 3.5 of the Seward Hwy.

Today, as the business continues to grow, it remains a small business in an ocean of big changes.  Obama Care and Medicare have imposed huge federal regulations and guidelines over the past 4 years.  Like many medical practices, the costs of implementation have soared upwards of thousands of dollars.  Electronic medical records implementation alone is beyond $30,000 annually.  New HIPAA and Medicare regulations add to those costs.  On the Eve of these regulations being fully implemented in 2014, the cost of doing business continues to rise.  Faced with not accepting federally funded customers, earlier this year, Active Abilities began searching for a solution to allow the business to continue serving the patients that have supported it over the years.  The challenge was to find someone who would place the patient at the top of the concerns of the business.  After considering several options, Advanced Physical Therapy was clearly that solution.

Changes will finalize on October 1st, when customers will begin seeing new billing statements along with signage, email addresses and website changes.  Tina McLean will continue as the Clinical Director and Senior Therapist while Mark Ifflander, who joined the practice in April, will remain as staff therapist.  The practice just welcomed Raquel Buncie, an Occupational Therapy Assistant who will be developing more specialized programs over the next year.  All other employees are being retained with additional hiring anticipated over the next several months.

The exciting thing for the community is that all of Seward will continue to have a choice in quality advanced orthopedic care.  We can now continue accepting all customers including Medicare, Medicaid, Workers Compensation, and all other insurances.  Customers will also have access to more available appointment times. Hours will be expanded for the first time to include, Fridays, with hours now being Monday-Friday  8am to 6pm.

The exciting thing for the staff is that for the first time in the history of the business all employees will be fully benefited with major medical, retirement, excellent continuing education benefits and an employer with an established history in the state.

Ms. McLean states, “I can’t begin to say how happy this makes me.  I have been blessed to be able to return and work in this community.  Nothing gives me more joy than seeing people who are hurting get better and go on with their lives.  I believe this change will benefit all of Seward as well as our staff.  I am grateful for the trust Seward has shown me in the past and wanted to continue to earn that trust in making this change. I look forward to working with Advanced PT and our customers along this journey called life for many years.”


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