After losing jobs during the COVID pandemic, the couple fills in needs with Jackson Healing Clinic

The Jackson Healing Clinic LLC is proof that adversity can lead to opportunity. Or in this case, two of them.

In 2020, David Goolsby is the Michigan manager of Lynnwood, a Washington-based company, Patterns of Behaviorism, which has created a special therapy to treat children with autism.

From May 2019 to August 2020, Goolsby was responsible for obtaining local permits and approvals and hiring staff to open five brick-and-mortar processing centers in Chelsea, Lansing, Detroit, Howell and Adrian. But with COVID-19 unleashing its wrath, there were no kids visiting treatment centers, and there certainly was no need for Goolsby to open any more of them. His job has been terminated.

In 2020, Heather Steltner was a therapist and supervisor at Starr Albion Prep, a residential behavioral and therapeutic facility for 135 troubled youths ages 12-18. The facility is operated on behalf of Albion-based Starr Commonwealth by Huntsville, a Sequel Youth and Family Services LLC based.

On May 1, 2020, a 16-year-old boy named Cornelius Fredericks died after being tied up when he threw a sandwich at someone in the cafeteria. Subsequently, the state withdrew its license and on July 1, Starr Commonwealth terminated the contract with Sequel. Steltner was unemployed.

Despite social distancing and widely enforced stay-at-home protocols, Stiltner and Goolsby took the lead. They decide to become partners in practicing therapy for profit. They founded the company in October 2020 and began meeting patients in December, strictly through video conferencing at first as the pandemic continued.

The practice focuses on children who have been physically or sexually abused. It also treats adults with depression or anxiety. Heather said the youngest client is 3 years old, and the oldest is 86.

“People said we were crazy to start a business during the pandemic, but we knew we had to try, and we got a great result,” she said.

As if opening their business during the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t stressful enough, Stiltner and Goolsby also decided to get married last May.

In June, they purchased a vacant former doctor’s office north of downtown Jackson for $280,000, then did a complete interior renovation and renovation and put in a large new parking lot and landscaping. The office opened for business in July.

Jackson Economic Development Corp. loaned Goolsbys $41,250 as part of the down payment.

Ironically, while COVID presented obstacles in beginning treatment practice, Heather said it was ultimately a blessing for them. “It’s normal to be under pressure,” she said. “People are eager to talk about it.” “Children have experienced the trauma of leaving school.”

They say the growth of the practice far exceeded what they expected. They now have 19 therapists working with them as independent contractors, a few still do telemedicine but most meet with clients in person in the office. The total number of patients is about 325 patients per week.

“We ran out of space,” David Goolsby said. They’ve purchased a couple of plots next to the old doctor’s office and are exploring ways to expand the business, though he admits to the label’s shock when he got an estimate for building a new adjoining office.

He said they initially spent a lot of money on Facebook ads and other social media. “We don’t need to spend that money anymore. The last thing we need right now is marketing,” he said.

He is the President and CEO and manages insurance approvals, billing, payroll, and back office support through IT contractors. Heather, who holds an MA in Organizational Leadership from the University of Siena Heights and an MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of Spring Arbor, is a clinical director, supervising other therapists and handling her own issues.

David attributes a large portion of their growth to referrals from the Family Health Center, which operates five centers around Jackson County, including a large, three-story facility downtown. The center provides primary medical and dental care to patients of all ages, with Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance accepted in all locations, and no one is turned away due to inability to pay.

Scott White is the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Center for Family Health and says the Jackson Recovery Clinic has been a godsend. “We have four therapists here, and that’s not nearly enough for the community’s needs,” he said. “The response I got is that patients enjoy going there. They feel heard. They are a much-needed resource in the community. We have a waiting list here. If you need to be seen, where do you go?”

“They are a stopping point for people to turn to, a real resource in the community. And being a young couple as well, they are entrepreneurs who fill that gap in the community as well.”

Corena Herder is a licensed therapist for 12 years, focusing primarily on children who have experienced one form or another of trauma. Prior to the pandemic, Heather was her supervisor at Starr Albion Prep for three years, and was recruited shortly after the Healing Clinic launched.

“Heather reached out and said, ‘Hey, we’re considering having our own clinic,'” recalls Herder, who has been at the clinic since December. are you interested? “It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I have the ability here to reach as many as possible, both physically and emotionally. I can use all my skills.”

She said she especially appreciates that David takes care of all the bureaucracy, and doesn’t have to worry about billing or insurance issues. “I can only use my skills with patients.”

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