By PAUL ROWLEY
Vashon Island Physical Therapy will soon close its office and formally end operations as longtime islander and physical therapist Marilyn Kleyn prepares to retire.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” she said last week.
The practice, which has been on Vashon since 1981, has undergone a number of transformations during its 37-year history.
Kleyn, who was raised in West Seattle and came to the island as a child to pick strawberries, eventually saw a need that was not being met.
“In 1978 I was working for visiting nurses services, and there was absolutely no physical therapy on the island,” she said.
Three years later she began her own practice in what is now the John L. Scott building and offered therapy from that location until her lease ended. Vashon Island Physical Therapy moved to a building purchased in Burton before finally settling next to the Village Green on the highway.
Marilyn says that the business could not continue without someone new to take over, attributing that reason to her decision to close.
“I’ve been lucky to be able to work on Vashon, and it’s a fabulous community,” she said. “I love my patients, and I wish I had more life so I could keep working, but I would also like to travel and help with my grandchild.”
The office is not accepting new patients. Current patients have been advised to make arrangements with the practice’s additional physical therapists, such as scheduling home visits. Care plans are being made with the best interests of all involved, she noted, recommending other providers as far away as West Seattle if treatment is needed urgently.
“We’ve tried to steer people into the direction we think would be best for them,” Kleyn said.
Sale of the building remains in private negotiations. Its sale was still listed as “pending” on Monday.
Kleyn says that many aspects of her professional life have been fulfilling.
“No matter what someone’s problem is, seeing them be able to master their situation and become more independent through working in a program,” she said, was a priviledge of her trade and years of service. Above all, ensuring the betterment of an individual’s comfort and quality of life is the greatest reward of the job.
“Working with the community and seeing people progress and improve, seeing people who couldn’t do something; all of a sudden they’re able to do something they haven’t for many years. Even if they can’t improve, helping them to see their potential.”
“It’s really been a dream to stay here on Vashon,” she said.
The last day of business at Vashon Island Physical Therapy will be April 25.