Comprising 10 practitioners in a multi-tenant space on Lees Avenue, The Wellness Collective is looking to offer a variety of healthcare services in a community environment.
By Matt Skoufalos | November 10, 2020
When she looks back on her time in primary care settings, Jennifer Wheeler remembers it as “frustrating, day in and day out,” not only because she felt bound by the limitations of traditional medical models, but also because her patients’ health wasn’t improving.
“There’s certain protocol in place where you’re trying to make a diagnosis, and you prescribe a medication based on that diagnosis, and the patient ends up having a million symptoms based on that medication,” Wheeler said.
“They would not feel better, and it didn’t sit well with my soul,” she said.
When she began to search for a different type of practice to join, one rooted in a holistic approach to care, Wheeler couldn’t find something that shared her mindset. So, together with her husband, Ryan, she set out to create it.
Wheeler is a certified nurse practitioner with a 20-year background in healthcare, having also worked as an exercise physiologist and personal trainer in addition to positions in outpatient surgery, aesthetics, and family practice. Her functional medicine practice, MNDSHFT (pronounced “mind shift”), takes a “root-cause” approach to unraveling chronic conditions, and performs a “deep dive into areas of life” that affect her patients, she said.
“I focus a lot on prevention and disease reversal,” Wheeler said. “I am passionate about cardiometabolic diseases, and I do work a lot with weight loss, energy, chronic fatigue, libido.”
“I love doing that because I see these transformations in someone’s life, and I really believe in it,” she said.
In keeping with the theme of transformation, Wheeler has renovated a commercial building at 24 Lees Avenue in Collingswood (formerly the BCW Tech and Colonial Cab space) into The Wellness Collective, or “The Well,” for short. Wheeler believes it can broaden the scope of her own holistic health approach across a variety of complementary disciplines under one roof.
The multi-unit space is home to 10 individual practices offering chiropractic care; physical, occupational, and speech therapies; connective tissue therapy; energy healing; counseling, psychotherapy, and career coaching; and sports and recovery therapy.
There’s also a rental space for individual sessions.
Every business is independently operated, but The Well unifies them under the banner of whole-patient health.
Internally, practitioners may refer clients for services among one another, and Wheeler expects there will be opportunities for them all to collaborate on community health concerns.
“We’re always thinking of the whole person and the extension of that whole person,” Wheeler said. “We’re redefining what ‘holistic’ means a little bit—their family, their environment, their community, and how all those things play a role.
“I believe there is no one answer in finding your health,” she said. “There’s so many different people here that offer so many different pathways to figuring out how to heal; it’s refreshing. And in the same sense, I love the concept of collaborating with other like-minded professionals in the area.”
That’s one of the reasons that clinical social worker Kelly Siegel McGinnis wanted to join The Well. The south Florida transplant brought her brand, Insight Mental Wellness, to the collective because she missed the collaborative environment of a larger healthcare setting.
“The Well provides a perfect way for me to integrate collaboration and interdisciplinary perspective into my practice without changing anything about the way I run my practice,” McGinnis said.
Pediatric physical therapist Sara Brummer of Haddon Township said she enjoys the whole-family approach shared by many of her fellow practitioners.
Brummer’s techniques are based in play, and help parents learn how to promote their children’s gross motor development in ways that can make therapy feel more like fun.
“I love figuring out the ‘why,’ rediscovering that it’s all connected, and helping families to set their kids up for motor success so they can participate in their most important job—play,” Brummer said.
“To be surrounded by like-minded practitioners who treat the whole person is a dream come true!” she said. “When I see my families [who] have a need that is outside my scope of practice, I know I have a trusted friend and colleague within The Well that I can refer them to with confidence.”
Similarly, pediatric speech-language pathologist Molly Cervini, who joined The Well to incorporate more space and professional support for her clients, said the setting offers room for families to get help for their children’s various needs.
“My expectations are that we can serve more people together as a source of support and solutions,” Cervini said. “I want The Well to be a local, welcoming place where people come for help, and receive it.”
Connective tissue therapist Krista Sassani, whose practice has been sidelined by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, said she’s eager to get back to work in a supportive environment, where colleagues “are focused on offering real, individual responses to people’s needs as well as remembering to take care of themselves while doing their work.
“I have already experienced support from the other businesses in the building, and the ability to refer and confer has been both a relief and exciting,” Sassani said.
“Every member is aware that the happiness and success of the community stems from the health of those that make it up, and their actions and allocations reflect that awareness,” she said.
“The Well is striving to not leave any aspect of health out of the conversation,” Sassani said, adding that its core concept is to embrace “true, sustainable health instead of symptom suppression.”
Functional nutritional therapist Kelly Fitz-Patrick shares Wheeler’s whole-patient approach to nutritional counseling and blood-sugar regulation in her business, Elevated Nutritional Therapy.
“My goal is to reach those who have tried all of the fad diets and practices, and are looking to find the root causes of their symptoms to start their own healing journeys specific to themselves,” Fitz-Patrick said. “General practitioners don’t have the time to really dig in deep to finding root causes, and don’t have extensive training in nutrition. Food is healing, and that’s the place I start with clients.”
Chiropractor Kara Rangel, who specializes in delivering pregnancy and postpartum care for mothers and babies, said she believes working in a collaborative atmosphere can provide the best outcomes for her patients.
“I joined The Well because all of the practitioners in this space have a very similar mindset, as we are an alternative to western medicine, and specifically help those patients that want to avoid drugs or surgery,” Rangel said.
“I truly believe that patients get the best care when multiple practitioners are collaborating and working together as a team to achieve optimal health for a patient, and that is exactly what The Well is: a group of amazing practitioners that want to work together and help our patients reach their health goals with a more natural approach,” she said.
Career coach Karinne Lindner shares a similar philosophy; she believes that the collaborative atmosphere of The Well will be a natural fit for her practice, For The Love of Work.
“I believe deeply in communities, as well as the connection between the body and mind,” Lindner said.
“I think the root of many societal problems, especially these days, is a lack of human connection.
“Living in a country where independence is so revered, it has become clear to me that we desperately need and benefit from human connection,” she said.
“But asking for help, admitting that we don’t have all of the answers, and taking steps towards change can be hard.
“The Wellness Collective is both a physical and conceptual reminder that seeking out help can be rewarding, and also support our individual and collective growth,” Lindner said.
The Well is located at 24 Lees Avenue in Collingswood. For a list of practitioners, visit its website.
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