Phoenix physical therapist Dennis Schepmann watches running patient Gina Jones do a 'plank' exercise to strengthen her core. - Photo by Denise Baratta

Readers' Picks: Healthy Services

Favorite Day Spa

Twice-weekly massages keep Jimmy Kolker fit for riding horses and playing tennis at age 63.

Co-owner of The Blue Giraffe Day Spa and Salon, Kolker can't recommend spa treatments enough as "preventative" health care.

Whether they come weekly or a few times per year, local spa enthusiasts head to The Blue Giraffe for escape. Founded in 2002 by Kolker and wife, Trisha, an interior designer, the spa is an oasis in the heart of Ashland's downtown, tucked discreetly out of sight near Ashland Creek at 51 Water St.

The Blue Giraffe recently extended its reach beyond classic spa and beauty treatments to facial peels and injectable wrinkle treatments administered by Ashland plastic surgeon Bruce Reynolds. The Blue Giraffe also collaborates with local hotels and restaurants to offer complete weekend getaways. These and other specials are promoted via Facebook to some 400 spa "friends," Kolker says. See the website www.bluegiraffespa.com.

Other favorites: Gervais Day Spa & Salon; Chozu Bath & Tea Gardens

Favorite Chiropractor

Marc Heller's 30-year commitment to chiropractics have made him the No. 1 local choice.

The 60-year-old Ashland chiropractor entered the field before naturopathic medicine or acupuncture existed locally. Now, Heller often refers patients to alternative therapies that complement his own work.

"We're a team working on getting them well," Heller says of his patient relationships.

Most people seek chiropractic adjustment for chronic neck and back pain that has no medical explanation, Heller says, adding that "forgetting how to move" correctly is a problem for many.

Beth, Heller's wife of 36 years, also works as a massage therapist in his Siskiyou Boulevard clinic, along with chiropractor Matt Terreri, who earned third place in our readers' poll. For more information, see the website www.marchellerdc.com.

Other favorites: Nikki Walker, Matt Terreri


M. Teresa Bresnan founded her Oriental medical practice in Medford to separate herself from dozens in Ashland. More than a decade later, readers point to her for acupuncture.

Bresnan specializes in orthopedic and musculoskelatal injuries, chronic health conditions and hormonal imbalances. Traditional Chinese and Western herbs, as well as massage and dietary counseling, complement her practice at Acupuncture and Natural Health Center on East Main Street, Bresnan says.

"Acupuncture and herbs are like right and left hand," she says.

Most patients see results in five to 10 treatments, about 80 percent of which are covered by insurance, Bresnan says. The 45-year-old Talent resident gives free monthly nutrition lectures with other practitioners at the Jackson County Library's Medford and Talent branches. She also plans to hold free, monthly meditation and quigong classes. See the website www.acupunctureessentials.com.

Other favorites: Michael Pope of Health Wise Acupuncture; Middleway Medicine

Massage Therapist

Massage therapist Devon Huttema must have the magic touch.

Working closely with local chiropractors and other health practitioners, Huttema specializes in therapeutic, deep-tissue massage at Medford's Ventana Wellness and Jacksonville Chiropractic Clinic. Clients say sessions are "painful, but it was a good kind of pain."

The 25-year-old licensed massage therapist attended Ashland Institute of Massage. She takes appointments Mondays and Tuesdays at Jacksonville Chiropractic, Thursdays and Fridays at Ventana. Most of the hour-long sessions are covered by clients' insurance, she says.

In addition to massage, she recommends clients stretch and exercise to combat pain and the headaches caused by stiffness in neck and shoulders.

"It is amazing how much it helps you feel better."

Other favorites: Cara Wirt of Balanced Massage; Anna Christensen

Favorite Physical Therapist/Clinic

Jackson County's largest independent physical therapy clinic gets our readers' vote as the area's best.

Jackson County Physical Therapy has four locations between Ashland and Eagle Point that serve about 2,000 new patients annually, says partner Justin Carson. He and partners Bill Esser, Don Wolf and Tim Palmesano pride themselves on treating patients with 17 licensed therapists instead of using aids or technicians, Carson says.

"We have a unique model of care," he says.

Most patients are recovering from surgeries, work-related and sports injuries or even suffer temporomandibular joint disorder. After an average of six to 10 visits — usually by physician referral and covered by insurance — patients can maintain progress at home with exercise programs, ergonomics and better body mechanics for everyday tasks, Carson says.

JCPT offers free phone consultations. For more information see the website www.jc-pt.com.

Other favorites: Medford Sports Injury & Therapy Center; Sporthopedics Physical Therapy

Favorite Naturopath

At least half of Ellen Heinitz's patients consider her their primary-care physician, albeit a naturopath.

"There's getting to be so much more interest in it," Heinitz says of the alternative medical field.

Before opening an office at Medford's Ventana Wellness, Heinitz, 38, founded a thriving Grants Pass practice five years ago. A graduate of Portland's National College of Natural Medicine, Heinitz works with patients to change their diets and lifestyles while using herbs and homeopathic treatments.

Although many patients want "alternatives to drugs and surgery," naturopathic physicians in Oregon have full prescribing rights for any pharmaceutical that can be self-administered, Heinitz says.

Heinitz keeps office hours at Ventana on Wednesdays and her Grants Pass clinic at 1200 N.E. Seventh St. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, see the website www.drellenonline.com

Other favorites: Ajana Miki of Kokoro Healing Arts; Bonnie Nedrow of Hidden Springs Wellness Center

Favorite Nutritionist/Dietitian

More than two decades of dishing out dietary advice — most recently to diabetics — has made Cathy Miller the Rogue Valley's most well-known dietitian.

Making room on patients' plates for occasional treats like white sugar, flour and caffeine keeps her practice popular, too.

"I'm not a purist," says Miller, 49. "I don't really preach anything that I don't practice myself."

Portion sizes have always been the biggest dietary pitfall, Miller says, but diabetes — with its additional focus on how foods' glycemic index affects insulin — has become an American epidemic since Miller entered the field in 1985.

Miller obtained certification as a diabetes educator in 2006 to complement her 22 years of employment at Providence Medford Medical Center. She joined Ventana Wellness three years ago and also works part time for a Grants Pass medical group.

Although the vast majority of her patients are diabetic, Miller says she treats more and more cases of pre-diabetes, as well as intolerances to gluten, lactose and fructose.

Other favorites: Michael Altman

Favorite Dentist/Dental Office

East Main Dental Center gives readers something to smile about.

The latest in dental technology and comfort "makes dentistry not so scary" for some 12,000 patients of the East Medford clinic, says office manager Tonya Sowles.

The practice's five partner dentists — Randy Wooten, Greg Miller, Hal Borg, Greg Pearson and Andrew Oas — treat patients with help from 35 support staff.

Screens above each reclining chair allow patients to relax with a favorite DVD or observe parts of their procedure in detail. Headphones let patients listen to music or escape the drill's drone.

"They can get their mind away from what's going on," Sowles says.

Dentists and technicians also have used computers in each treatment room to keep "chartless" records for the past five years, which is more efficient for both staff and patients, Sowles says. For more information, call 541-773-3422.

Other favorites: Eugene Robbins; Tamara Abbett

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