Christine Feely and Colleen Robinson followed different journeys to Trumansburg but found common ground in their love of physical therapy (PT). In 2017, the two partnered to found Synergy: Trumansburg Physical Therapy, and they’re proud of how their small business has grown since then.
Feely, a board-certified Women’s Health Certified Specialist, graduated from Nova Southeastern University in 1997 with a master’s in physical therapy. For the next 15 years, she worked with clients with women’s health or pelvic health needs like pre- and postpartum impairment and pelvic dysfunction. She’s lived many places, from the West Coast to western New York, before finally settling down in Trumansburg.
“I had an interest in science as well as exercise and fitness, and I also really enjoyed people, so this was a profession that pulled all of those three together,” Feely said.
Robinson, a board-certified orthopedic specialist and orthopedic residency graduate, grew up in Trumansburg and had a love of physical therapy well before college.
“I knew I didn’t want to sit at a desk when I was younger, and growing up, I was always interested in something that would keep me moving,” Robinson said. “I had a few injuries, and so, I did PT a little bit as a younger person, maybe middle school, and I thought it was interesting.”
Robinson completed her doctorate degree in physical therapy at Ithaca College and since then has worked extensively with those with chronic pain and dysfunction. Robinson is further connected to the village through her soccer coaching in Trumansburg and Ithaca.
Robinson and Feely’s stories intersected when the two met in Trumansburg and worked together. That experience led to a discovery.
“I live in this community, and I always had a desire to work in a smaller clinic, and I really enjoy organizing things and solving problems, so, naturally, it led to a desire to manage my own day and bring a vision to the clinic,” Feely said. “It was an exciting opportunity after having practiced for a long time to venture out on my own or with Colleen as a partner and bring that whole perspective together.”
Robinson said it was always their goal to approach physical therapy from a holistic standpoint where patients felt valued, and the culture in Trumansburg matched that mission well.
“We wanted to open a practice together where we could take that idea of working with that person through this whole process of rehabilitation and take our time with them and feel like they were the center of the care and that they had this really great connection with us,” Robinson said. “T-burg came to the forefront for us because we’re both from here and we felt really connected to the community.”
The two opened Synergy at 203 E. Main St. in Trumansburg in what was two separate businesses, an old video store and a chiropractic office. They opened the dividing walls, providing enough space for their small gym and offices. From there, everything from the paint on the walls to the plants in the lobby was designed to create a comforting space for patients.
“We wanted to create an environment where people felt they could come and get well, and so, that went into every decision that we made,” Robinson said. “Our goal is always to be a practice that could service the community in a super comforting way.”
Starting out, there were some road bumps in terms of figuring out the paperwork around insurance and billing, but the two had the advantage of a stable client base from the get-go.
“We had patients that we felt were in need for the services that we could provide, so once we opened, we had a good clientele to start out with,” Robinson said.
Over the past three years, Robinson and Feely have remained committed to their mission, providing holistic physical therapy for those in Trumansburg and beyond. They see themselves filling a need in the community, and the journey has been an interesting one.
Robinson said one of her biggest surprises while running the business was the large number of athletes that came in to be treated. Because of her long history as an athlete and her experience coaching, it was a welcome opportunity.
“We do love our specialties and work with patients in that population, which is a strong part of our foundation, but it’s awesome to interact with more of the younger population,” she said.
Feely said all along the way, she loved the small business climate in Trumansburg and how this business helped her meet more people in the village.
“It’s nice to be connected in a small community,” Feely said. “They’re the very same people that my children go to school with and we see at other organizations and that we see on the street and in stores. So, it’s really special to be able to have that connection with people and not get lost in the larger city.”
The next goal for these Synergy owners is to hire a third physical therapist, but Robinson said they never want to be too large.
“We don’t want to be a 10-clinician practice,” Robinson said. “We want to be a small, personalized boutique practice, and I think a lot of small businesses in T-burg are that same way. They don’t want to be a big box store. They want to be really tied to the community. They want to service this community and know who they’re servicing.”
Ultimately, Robinson and Feely are proud to be doing what they do in the village they love.
“I love my patients,” Robinson said. “I love the people here. I come to work, and I’m happy to see everyone. … They want to get better and they want to work with you. You’re not fighting with them.”
Feely echoed that sentiment, adding that she is optimistic for the future.
“I hope that people see as a place to come where there’s really patient-centered care, where they can bring their concerns about movement and function and strength as well as pain management,” Feely said.
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