The Evergreen Story

The Evergreen Story

by evergreenpt, August 23, 2017

What makes Evergreen Physical Therapy Specialists such a great place to heal?

Written by Tabitha Wang 

The first thing a patient told me when I started volunteering at Evergreen in the summer of 2012 was, “You don’t know how lucky you are to be here.” I nodded, smiled, and said, “Yeah, I know!”, but I didn’t really know. Over the years, I’ve come to discover just how lucky I am to be a part of Evergreen. Patients have said: “Honestly, I thought physical therapy was a crock until I came here,” or “We’ve had PT before, but it doesn’t compare to the care and expertise we’ve found here.” Now, we’ve had our share of naysayers and I don’t mean to say that other Physical Therapy clinics aren’t worth your time, but what I am saying is that there’s something special about Evergreen. There is a uniqueness to Evergreen that makes our patients want to bring their whole family in for treatment and makes them feel like a part of the Evergreen family themselves.
Who better to tell us the first story about Evergreen, than the captain of the ship himself, David Johnson, PT, MPT. Dave has been practicing physical therapy for the better part of three decades. Despite his intimidating mountain of knowledge, experience, and bear-like appearance, Dave is approachable, congenial, and an indomitable spirit. He will be the first to tell you that Evergreen is not the success of just one person, but the team as a whole. Here are his insights:


Why is Evergreen starting a blog?

Ha, most will say, “It’s about time” and “What took you so long.?” Well, being sort of old-school, I thought the whole blog thing was intimidating and, admittedly, unnecessary. For me it’s easy to be busy in the daily “why-we-do-what-we-do” and assume that our message gets out by word of mouth. Our expanding community of the Evergreen PT family suggests that this idea works and our daily referrals with high customer satisfaction seem to suggest it also. But, I realize that there are so many messages out there that can, and do, eclipse Evergreen’s message and also that word of mouth only goes so far. This prevents folks from getting to know us and what we have to offer them. I want people to know that we are the better option to so many physical and wellbeing problems and I am proud of the team we have assembled to provide great solutions to those problems. This blog is overdue and launched to enthusiastically share the story of the Evergreen fam who tirelessly provide the best solutions to many of the problems our community faces.


What makes Evergreen unique and different?

We are different. For the past 12 years we’ve strived to be different. I could brag about what I personally think is different and most likely I will do that in future blogs, but for now, let me answer this question with what I am told, often spontaneously, by people who pull me aside to make sure I know their thoughts.

I’ve been told that folks will make appointments just because the office staff was so helpful and kind during their first phone call. Others have told me that we were responsive and quick to answer their questions to make the process of their first appointment simple. Many have told me that they had a free consult and were convinced that the physical therapist whom they interacted with really knew their stuff and could help them achieve their goals. Tons of folks tell me they return to us pleased with original outcomes and desire to return for the same. One of our most common compliments is that people feel valued and listened to by very smart professionals who know what they’re doing. And each of us would say we are different because we are a happy, fun group who absolutely love what we do.


Why do people love evergreen?

Walking into our beautiful garden style / craftsman designed building, I have had folks say they feel better already. Once they meet our front office and get into the thick of their treatment program with the therapists and trainers we become family and our patients state that the vibe here is healing. I think that’s why. We have a vibe… it’s contagious, it’s positive, it’s personal, and it’s that place where everyone knows your name (just don’t tell the HIPPA authorities).


What’s the backstory of Evergreen?

How long do you have to listen? I was blessed with a very satisfying challenging career in rehabilitation at the well acclaimed Casa Colina in Pomona California. I owe them for my formative years in the profession and for nurturing the desire to always be part of a team that performs significant work in the lives of others. I had great mentors and lifelong friends. As my own family grew to four kids and they became involved in school and sports activities i realized that i needed to work closer to my hometown of Pasadena. I worked for two years nearby in South Pasadena and it was during that time that my mind wandered into the realm of creating Evergreen. The passion that ignited was for quality home town physical therapy as a “center of excellence” that i was accustomed to at Casa Colina fueled by the creative part of assembling experts under one roof collaborating and sharing knowledge with each other. I envisioned the ‘art colonies’ of painters and sculptors, individual yet together crafting their own creations with the energy of their surroundings. As a fan of the Arts and Crafts movement and craftsmen architecture so abundant in Pasadena, I was inspired by the creators of batchelder tiles who proudly proclaimed there are “many tiles alike but no two tiles the same”. As we physical therapists employ our science of the human body and the experiences of pain, being sidelined, or having a disability we tap into the art of compassion, creation, and skillful design of treatment plans to ensure healing for every unique person who enters our doors. “Many people, athletes, dancers, babies, moms, dads, grandparents, firefighters, actors, accountants, executives, teachers, laborers, etc alike, but no two the same…


How has your faith shaped how you practice your craft/ how you run your business?

I grew up here in Pasadena and had the privilege of being raised in a faith based family. My parents were always helping and serving others. That was my “norm”. My early years were spent helping my mom ‘taxi’ senior citizens to appointments, delivering meals to folks in need, hosting international students, adopting a brother from Cambodia, and working at camps for the disabled. My grandmother with dementia lived with us. In fact, we always had someone living with us whether it was an international student or someone in need of a bed. I just grew up where serving others was normal. I went to PT school because it seemed to be a career that could blend that love of serving others with my love for science, anatomy, physiology, health, and studying the great design of the human body. I began my career at Casa Colina fulfilling my “what do you want to do when you grow up?” dream, which services those with catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injured, head injured, amputees, and children with chronic conditions. While there i was challenged and inspired by heroes of mine such as Cameron, Christine, Channer, and Shirley. I wish you could meet them. They did not become bitter or depressed when life dealt a terrible blow, but rather with faith and their families’ support they used bad circumstances to bless others. I see them each as the tallest, strongest, and most stately of trees in a forest of evergreens displaying God’s love for humanity. 12 years later, when I dreamed of Evergreen and of my hometown of Pasadena, i thought of my heros, hence our name. I have remained close to those roots and my admiration of them, and have made business decisions that frequently may not have been for lucrative purposes but honored them with our service of excellence, compassion, and healing.


How has your mission grown or changed over the years?

It has surpassed all expectations, and done so by far. I can’t tell you the joy it is to come to work each day and share space with brilliant, fun, compassionate staff. What was a pipe dream has truly been achieved. The mission has only grown in strength and expanded in scope. When i first started did i realize we would assemble professionals in women’s health, TMJ, concussion management, tactical strength and conditioning, or have folks working with olympic medical staff and firefighters on the side? No, i had no idea. Looking back there was only one mission which guided our growth and that was the original dream to bring craftsmen and craftswomen together under one roof, each highly skilled in the science and art of physical performance and well-being. The future may hold more than one roof but that mission will never be eclipsed and Evergreen will remain that colony of smart compassionate physical medicine professionals.


What do you look for in your employees?(what characteristics are unique to the Evergreen employee/therapist?)

I get resumes and inquiries every week for positions ranging from a potential volunteer looking for inspiration to get into a PT as a career to professionals seeking a place to work. No matter who it is, I always look at one thing in particular: Will they fit? By that I mean, will they passionately preserve and protect what we have going on here and contribute to that art and science of physical and mental health. As I have matured in my own small business development I’ve learned some things the hard way but have also reaped the rewards of some spectacular decisions. Some applicants have all the smarts, but little passion or compassion. Others have all compassion, but may not be as smart or up to date with the latest evidence based approaches. I seek both smarts and passion/compassion from those who would compliment our family at Evergreen.

The Evergreen family taking a break in the day to celebrate a staff birthday.

How would you describe the atmosphere of the clinic?

We are known to be somewhat casual but don’t equate casual with unprofessional or less than competent. Our staff are exercising and moving with patients all day. Rarely do we just sit and have others do the work. We join in. We see infants on the floor or have to demonstrate some exercise that would be impossible in slacks, ties, dresses, etc. We have coffee and treats in our waiting area. We have both open gym spaces and closed door spaces depending on the needs and preferences. Our office has two levels with stairs, but we can always accommodate those with difficulty climbing stairs. Simply put, I think we’re fun. With the exception of the occasional computer “snafus”, we are all upbeat and in a good mood and that is all part of the healing process.


Is there anything specific that you strive to cultivate in the workplace to provide top notch service?

That’s a multifaceted question. Let me say that Evergreen has probably cultivated me more than I cultivated Evergreen. That said it is important Evergreen has the best therapists and staff who strive to learn and to serve. We are a team. There are many experts here and it is critical they love what they do, they are equipped to do what they love and that our patients experience the best there is in the field of physical therapy, athletic training, fitness, performance, and wellness. With all of that it is equally strategic that the team enjoys working side by side and can draw energy from each other’s passion.


What’s the biggest goal/impact that you hope Evergreen is able to attain or think has already attained in the Pasadena community?

It brings me great joy to serve the community with the best there is in our field. My goal goes back to the beginning mission… to bring to the Pasadena area the most skilled physical therapists, athletic trainers, and wellness personnel for the healthy benefit of the town I love. For nearly 13 years we’ve established that reputation and are thankful to the community who has become part of the #evergreenfam and helped us grow.


What can we expect to hear more of in this blog?

This blog is a story. It’s the story of Evergreen and how we’ve grown. You will be introduced to experts who care about you and want to share their expertise. We will share educational topics about conditions that we come across and potential solutions we offer. We don’t have big budgets or marketing campaigns. But, I guarantee, this blog will be a better story to the alternative story in TV ads frequently promoting solutions that, quite frankly, fall short. We will be persuasive about our message of movement science as the better story to opioids. Our story will feature highlights and maybe some low lights in day of a PT clinic illuminating real life experiences of recovery and getting on with life. We will argue for conversation space in the sensitive topic of bladder control where medications and depends have become fashionable. While parents and athletes every where have a growing concern over concussions, this blog will place our mark on the discussion and support youth leagues in education and baseline testing. We have a story in supporting “tactical athletes” such as fire fighters, police, sheriff, first responders and military with specialized training and conditioning programs. Parent blogs and groups can link to ours offering best practices for infants with torticollis and plagiocephaly. You get the idea. We have many chapters to this story. It began with excellence and shared passion under one roof … now it’s time to bust out of the walls and ceiling and share the wonderful story of Evergreen.


Originally published August 24, 2017.

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