Kienan Briscoe, For the Reporter
Dr. Erica Clark, Dr. Betsy Rigsbee, and Dr. Rachel Morin, co-founders of Bridge Physical Therapy and Wellness, first met one another while working at a physical therapy center in south Mercer Island. When that business was sold to a corporation in 2021, the three women began to notice a “decline” in the quality of care, they said, and that drove them to the decision to leave and open a clinic of their own.
“We wanted to continue serving Mercer Island [residents] with our unique treatment model,” said Clark. “We loved the community, we loved what we were doing, and we thought if we can continue meeting the needs of the community, but under our leadership, we could continue doing that.”
This treatment model, Rigsbee said, is maintaining personal relationships with their clients, meeting with them one-on-one and truly evaluating their needs to assist them to the best of the staff’s ability.
“The exact opposite of a big corporation,” said Clark. “That’s what we want to maintain at Bridge — that connection to the community.”
Bridge Physical Therapy and Wellness opened on July 11, 2022, and they have been pursuing this personable, hands-on approach to physical therapy since. As of Dec. 29, the clinic has 11 reviews on Google Reviews, all of them perfect five-star ratings. A consistent theme in many of these reviews is how attentive, personable and adaptive the team is in finding a solution that works best for everyone’s needs.
“Betsy is one of the best physical therapists I have seen. She is creative and willing to try different approaches until she finds a solution. Highly recommended,” Erin Vivion, a reviewer, wrote online. Another reviewer, Erik Budzynski wrote: “Unlike other clinics, your Bridge PT spends 100% of your visit with you. The quality of care is unmatched. I couldn’t recommend them more.”
All three founders are highly experienced and certified in the field of physical therapy, with over 40 years combined experience. Clark’s undergraduate degree in business helped get the ball rolling when figuring out the logistics of starting out, as well as her 18 years as a shareholder for Therapeutic Associates. Beginning with the initial idea, the three founders sat down and drafted up a business plan for months, and it just “blossomed” from there.
“I felt like it came together much quicker than I anticipated,” said Rigsbee.
Morin always had the dream of opening her own practice, but the decision to take a chance on starting her own business took deeper consideration because at the time, she had been offered a full-time position at a local hospital.
“I had to sit down with my husband, and Erica and Betsy, and really decide if I was going to take the safe route or the exciting route,” said Morin. “It just felt right. I think risk and opportunity are two sides of the same coin … I thought this was an amazing opportunity, to build something with these two amazing women who I adore so much and really feel like we have this well-rounded team. I just felt like it was an opportunity I couldn’t let go.”
The founders were fortunate to have several resources in the community, from lawyers aiding in the business license process, a Mercer Island commercial real estate company to help acquire the space, and fellow business owners reviewing their business plan.
“It really came down to the community,” Rigsbee added when speaking on how smoothly the whole process went.
“What has been wonderful is the reception from the community,” added Clark. “We’re just so grateful for Mercer Island.”
Rigsbee shared one of her favorite customer experiences, which took place while offering physical therapy consulting services on site at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater. During rehearsal one of the performers tore a muscle completely, which under normal circumstances could have been the end of their career. While working closely with Seattle Sports and Spine, which also specializes in treating performing artists, they found that non-operative management was the standard of care for this particular injury. With proper care, and minor modification to his routine, the artist was able to return to the stage in just two weeks to finish out the production’s remaining shows.
“He worked incredibly hard, but I really felt like it was our close knowledge of what he was doing, having some performing arts knowledge and a dance background, and being able to individualize and specialize his care really helped him make that transition,” said Clark. “We understood how important this was for him, it being a big role he was able to achieve, and it was so awesome.”
The Bridge founders continued their support for the artist by attending one of his performances which, they added, was “so fulfilling having known his journey.”
Bridge Physical Therapy and Wellness is currently accepting new clients and is located at 9311 SE 36th St., Suite 208, Mercer Island. The clinic specializes in rehabilitative care, preventative care, and fitness and wellness through individualized care and experiences therapists. To learn more, visit www.bridgeptandwellness.com.