Q&A with Lori Desjardine from Pillars of Wellness

Simply put, Pillars of Wellness, your one-stop health solution, wants you to be living your best life. Too many of us are living with pain and don’t do anything about it until it’s too late. Pillars of Wellness, located in Burlington, invite you to come experience a world-class collaborative healthcare and start living your life to its fullest. What are you waiting for?

Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN PILLARS OF WELLNESS?
Since I was a young child playing competitive sports, I was always getting injured and seeking services from several different health care providers. I was a child who would read anatomy books and psychology books in my spare time and was always curious as to why injuries occurred and amazed at how our bodies healed themselves. I always knew I would work in health care, but it took me some time to narrow down exactly which profession would best suit me. After extensive exploration into the variety of options, I chose to become an Occupational Therapist. I studied my undergrad at University of Western Ontario and then completed my masters at University of Toronto. I decided to become an Occupational Therapist because it is such a diverse profession, which dives into the body and mind of each person, supporting their return to health in a functional way, which empowers them and allows them to be as independent as possible throughout the process.

Since starting my OT career roughly 14 years ago, I had been working in a variety of health care settings – hospital, private, community and other. What I learned throughout that time was that the most successful health care environments, in terms of client recovery, were those with:

1. A Multidisciplinary Team (several different health care designations)
2. Professionals who were: Knowledgeable, Innovative, Caring and Compassionate
3. Professionals who Thrived in Team Environments and Disseminate Knowledge well
4. Environments which were both Proactive and Reactive

I had always dreamed of opening up a wellness clinic so I opened up Pillars of Wellness, where several different skilled practitioners work closely together, using their unique skills to help people improve their whole person health, in a supported and collaborative way.

Q: YOU OFFER A WIDE VARIETY OF HEALTH SERVICES. DISCUSS SOME OF THE POSITIVE STORIES YOUR PATIENTS HAVE EXPERIENCED AFTER WORKING WITH PILLARS OF WELLNESS?
We are very fortunate to have many different skilled professionals working in our clinic. Each client that walks through our doors has the opportunity to learn and be treated from a whole person perspective. Each person is unique in their presentation and their response to treatment. Not every client responds the same to physiotherapy or acupuncture for example, and similarly not every person is able to recover with only one treatment approach. At our clinic we look to dive deeper into the unique nature of each client and offer them services that will treat them from a whole person perspective. For example, a client comes to the clinic with chronic neck and back pain seeking Physiotherapy for relief. After initial consultation and further exploration into his/her day-to-day life, it was determined that perhaps the stress of his/her job and the set-up of his/her office might be contributing to his/her experience of pain. As a result, in conjunction with Physiotherapy treatment, is was recommended that they participate in yoga therapy to help with mind body connection and “letting go” of stress. Similarly, an ergonomic evaluation of his/her workstation by an Occupational Therapist was recommended to help modify the existing workstation to maximize posture and minimize aggravating factors. Utilizing this whole person approach allowed us as treatment providers to treat the client from a variety of angles proving better wellness outcomes and minimizing the risk of re-injury. The rehabilitation process was initially more extensive, however, the duration of treatment was reduced and the overall outcome was improved.

Q: YOU ADVERTISE PILLARS OF WELLNESS AS ‘YOUR ONE STOP HEALTH SOLUTION’. EXPLAIN WHAT THAT MEANS AND HOW THAT BENEFITS YOUR PATIENTS?
Being a “One-Stop Health Solution” really refers to our clinics ability to address health concerns utilizing the minds of many different, yet related, health professions. We recognize that every body and mind is unique in their strengths and limitations and as such, we are able to offer a wide variety of treatment approaches. Given the breadth of the treatments that are provided, every client can be assured that we can find a treatment approach that works for them. Our integrated care model allows the clients to move between professionals throughout their rehab or wellness journey without having to restart their storey or pause their care. Sometimes it is our state of mind or readiness for change that holds us back, so starting with our mind may in fact help our bodies to recover and heal. Our health professionals care helps to determine the best place to start in the wellness journey, which will help clear the path for recovery.

Q: WHAT CAN A NEW PATIENT EXPECT WHEN WALKING THROUGH YOUR DOORS? WHAT IS THE FIRST STEP IN STARTING THEIR JOURNEY?
The first step is always for us to learn more about the client and their current concerns. Listening is very important but also guiding them. Our priority is to help, and if it means referring the patient to another clinic or health practitioner outside of our clinic for a more specialize treatment, then we will. It is about the client and making sure he or she gets the best care possible. We empower clients with knowledge and help support their rehab journey.

Q: IF GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO RELAY A MESSAGE TO THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
Optimism is a shield against despair and an invitation to great possibilities. Optimists are positive and hopeful and responsive to the realities they confront. They recognize that there are challenges but that they can be overcome (mostly). We owe it to the people that we serve to be relentlessly optimistic: There’s always something that works.

Our vision at Pillars of Wellness is to provide services, which fully embodies collaboration and partnership amongst professionals and to serve as a primary center for the maintenance and promotion of health. We aim to revolutionize the way we diagnose, treat, care, rehabilitate and promote health for our clients. Let’s stay optimistic, there is help out there!

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