Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates has grown substantially since opening in 2002. They now have nine Podiatrists, a Family Practice Doctor and five locations with another office opening in early 2019. Their dedicated team of 80 staff members has helped 60,000 patients this year. “The hope is in two or three years we can help 120,000 patients a year,” shares founder, Dr. Terrance Hess.
Hess’s path to podiatry was not a straight shot. After high school, he went immediately into pharmacy school. “The first year I had a job I was really excited, but by the second year I realized I wasn’t helping people the way I had intended.” Looking for a new opportunity, Hess began interviewing doctors when they called in their prescriptions. “I made a list of what seemed to fit best,” he says. “Anesthesiology, because I knew medications well; dermatology, because financially they balanced personal and work well; and finally, podiatry because it sounded interesting. It was on the bottom of the list as I didn’t know much about it.”
Hess shadowed anesthesiology. “It was pretty cool, but for me it was boring because the patient is asleep when surgery is happening,” he explains. “After shadowing dermatology, I still wasn’t satisfied in the way I was needing to help people.”
Hess finally landed in podiatry. “Podiatry – this uncommon foot specialty – was spectacular!” he exclaims. “Old people, young people, active and inactive people – everybody! Patients would get better.” Because of the diversity in clientele and the mix of surgery and non-surgical healing modalities, Hess found his calling.
When Hess first went into practice, no one knew who he was. “I realized it’s important to reach out, so I shook hands with everyone under the sun,” he explains.
Hess and his long-time coworker, Laurie, found that if they pushed hard and went to different places like Shelton, Centralia and Montesano to set up practice for just one day a week, their clientele would quickly expand.
“I found an old goal list where I wrote ‘create the mecca,’” shares Hess. “For me, that means helping more people get care.”
After working in another practice for many years, Hess left to pursue his dream of growing the “mecca” and created Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates. “From 2002 on, it just exploded,” he says. “We didn’t know how to say no … We don’t even tell certain insurances we don’t want them. We try to let everyone in. Business got so busy that I either needed to clone myself or do something. So, I brought Dr. Burghardt, a classmate of mine, over in 2004 and it has just been growing ever since.”
Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates says yes to new patients, yes to insurance companies and yes to any opportunity that broadens their capability to help more people. Their “yes” to patient care-mentality has contributed to the rapid growth and success of their services.
Recently, Dr. Hess and his associate, Joelene, decided Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates should broaden their awareness from only podiatry into a more encompassing sphere of complete wellness. They offer physical therapy, massage therapy, sports medicine, PRP, surgical centers and have even offered weight loss programs. They’re hoping to add nutrition classes for their diabetic patients and a fall prevention program for their elderly clientele. One of the reasons for broadening their services is to provide people with the tools for prevention before they have a major ailment or injury. “People don’t want to go to the doctor until there’s something wrong,” Hess says. “But do you really want to wait until your car is out of gas before you do something about it?”
The stellar team at Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates are to thank for growing their “mecca” into a reality. The staff members stay connected with one another by participating in their own sports teams – baseball, volleyball and bowling – and taking part in a team building day each year. They work to connect with the community by doing monthly outreach programs such as planting trees or participating in Northwest Harvest. The team also connects globally by sending some of their doctors and staff on mission trips, this year to Puerto Rico.
Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates’ newest location in Lacey is in the process of being remodeled. It’s due to open in February 2019. The space will provide 2,500 additional square feet to serve even more clients.