Get to know our friend Dr. Linda Drake from the Foundation of Integrated Health in the Lower Lonsdale Shipyards District of North Vancouver.
I grew up in West Vancouver roaming the “Shore” as a kid when all you had to do is show up for dinner at 5:30! Did my high school at West Van High, some Capilano “College” and SFU to get requirements for entry into Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, all while hanging out on the local mountains and Whistler skiing my brains out! I did my 4 years in Toronto all while “pining” for the mountains and the ocean. When I returned home, my mother had arranged for me to do a holiday locum for her local chiropractor – and that is how I started. I worked with Dr. Russ Manson several days a week summer 1983, but that fall I started working in Whistler, with the goal of eventually moving a full time Whistler life.
It didn’t take long…. Soon I went from 3-8 Friday, 12-7 Sunday to 3-8 Friday and Saturday, and 10-8 Sunday, returning to North Vancouver to work 10-7 Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. As you can imagine, I could not keep that pace up! At this time, I “re-met” my to-be-husband, Bill Ridley, and when a job transfer didn’t materialize for him, we decided to focus on North Vancouver as our home. North Shore Chiropractic Clinic was my first focus after I left working with Dr. Manson and stepped out on my own.
Located in the same building, I rented my family’s smaller 500 sq ft office on the 3rdfloor beside my father’s engineering business. I worked there full time with other associates until one day, my hands just gave out and I had to take some time off. I handed my precious patients off to Dr. James Leigh and stepped out of the office based practice arena for many years, not by plan, but by having two beautiful daughters and a home based practice. This worked very well for the my daughters’ younger years, but when an opportunity to come back and work with Dr. Leigh (and Mary, my office manager since 1988!) I jumped at it. We worked together and then decided to open North Shore Wellness Center, the first multidisciplinary clinic on the North Shore.
Expanding into my now retired father’s space, we built a 1500 sq ft clinic encompassing the entire 3rd floor of the 14th street building. However, Dr. Leigh had always had a passion to live in Victoria, and when he moved and sold his practice I felt that I was not in the right space and working with the right people. I decided to open my own clinic, The Foundation for Integrated Health in 2005 and found a lower Lonsdale location at the west end of Esplanade by Waterfront park. This building and location however did have some issues and we started looking for a new location in 2007 – and it took until 2012 to find and build out our current location on the 2nd floor, north end of Lonsdale Quay.
This location has been fabulous. We have seen tremendous change in the Lolo area since coming here in 2005, however an exponential growth has happened since 2012 with the coming of The Shipyards, the Polygon Gallery, the Promenade building, the Cates Deck and many other recreational and community amenities which makes the Lolo area so vibrant and alive. It really is the place to be, live and work.
What makes us so different is blended in with what happened to me when I went off work with my hand injuries. I wasn’t getting better by traditional chiropractic, acupuncture, physio or massage – I had to figure out what was wrong with me! Turns out, it wasn’t what it was diagnosed by all the “specialists” but related to my posture, neck and alignment! I started doing a lot of investigating and with new techniques “in hand” I started to improve. I also rediscovered Pilates which gave me a whole new appreciation for the need for proper breathing technique, core bracing and alignment – something that my patients to this day still hear me talking about.
Back then, it was not a “thing!” You just worked out, lifted your weights and were not really focused on the technique. These new ways of working on functional movement, being concerned about nerve conduction as a function of muscle power and the incorporation of Trigenics Neuromuscular Therapy into the practice, with cold laser therapy was way ahead of the curve. No one knew what to call me, because what I did wasn’t part of their definition of Chiropractor! So when they came to the office and had a treatment, it wasn’t a 5 or 8 or 10 minute treatment and an “adjustment,” it was a full 30 minutes of evaluation, neurological treatment with cold laser, Trigenics to rebalance the muscles and myofascial release – no wonder they felt better after the treatment! It was a full multidisciplinary treatment done by one practitioner with adjunctive RMT work as needed.
Many patients come to the front desk and talk to our office manager Mary, who has been the front desk face in this clinic for many, many years – in fact, Mary and I have worked together since 1988, except for my home practice years. She would always say to the patients that if they wanted to get better FAST – they should see all the practitioners put together in a treatment plan. Starting with the whole multidisciplinary approach back in 1999, we have seen how it makes a difference, especially for those who have had a lot of health challenges, injuries or accidents. You can’t expect one person to do it all for you, you need to develop your HEALTH TEAM of trusted practitioners to keep you optimized in today’s world. This takes time and money, but what better investment than in yourself?
Many of our patient’s say “I thought it would go away!” And it doesn’t. Then the medical merry-go-round of doctors and specialists who haven’t solved their issue or pain are really more concerned with diagnosis of the issue. Absolutely important to know what you are dealing with, but is that all it is? Treatment? Rehab? Not my area of expertise. Recommendations? None or the obvious ones which you have already tried.
Preventative health is exactly that – not waiting until it is a huge problem that now needs surgery, or a new hip or knee. Many of these joint replacements could be avoided if people just knew how to exercise and what to look for. This is why we now have Active Rehab in house, in the clinic. Many think they are doing the exercise correctly but when shown how to, it feels totally different. You need a discerning eye to point these things out. So preventative health is being proactive: with diet, with exercise, with balance in life, with “emotional” health and more. The hardest thing to do is make yourself a priority.
Dr. Linda Drake started this practice, but as said before, it started a long time before The Foundation for Integrated Health. I went to Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto for 4 years after completing 2 years of a 4 Kinesiology degree. I’d like to finish that one day! I’ve also taken thousands of hours of continuing education over my career with certifications all over the wall in my office. I also was invited to the 1988 Calgary Olympics as a practitioner, and wanted to be involved in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics but an injury to my knee slowed me down, and I just couldn’t take that on as well.
My husband, Bill Ridley is the Executive Director – which is double speak for he does many aspects of the management side. He is a saint for doing all this, but he does what I don’t have time for and keeps the bottom line. Mary has been the office manager forever; she is like an institution! She has an encyclopedic brain for people and faces and if you can find someone like her to work with, you are as fortunate as I have been. She has been my right hand, as Bill has been my left. They do it all – to keep the ball rolling every day with everyone in the clinic, especially now with Covid and social distancing and all the extra things we all have to do to keep everyone safe. Dr. Aleem Remtulla came to work with me 5 ½ years ago and embraced the work and technique has been a fabulous associate – even my MD who refers to us thinks I am very lucky to have such a great guy to work with. I’d say he has my back!
We have 4 RMT’s working with us –my daughter Alia, a collegue from RMT school Mally, Mallory and Bryce, and Lianna our Active Rehab practitioner – locals from here on the North Shore. The key skillsets to be a good practitioner that I look for is passion for what you do and a good heart. We all need compassion in our lives and these people have it for all their patients. We all do. Many patients say that they feel better just coming in the door because they know that they will be well taken care of.
So as a clinic, we have this team that understand what each other does and try to put the “right person” with the “right practitioner.” The hardest thing to do is to find the time to discuss a patient case when we all have “social distancing” schedules now.
The Lonsdale Quay Market location is great – I just wish more people could see us! That’s us, just above the shipping bay, but we have not been approved for better signing as they Quay is wanting to do a renovation at the front entrance, and with Covid we have been delayed even further. So if this article does one thing, it makes people go by and wave at me in the window!! I see you!
Does your business bill directly with insurance providers?
Yes in fact many of patients just walk in the front door of our office and walk out after their treatments without having to deal with money transactions or insurance paperwork at all. Our patients love the simplicity and care free system we provide. We bill directly with their insurance companies. Any fees not covered by insurance are billed to the patients credit card which is accessed by a highly secure block chain. Everything is digital, the patients receive an email receipt after their visit which details what was covered by their health insurance and any costs they have paid.
If some of our readers would like to become customers, what does that process look like?
The intake process is done online and is so easy. You can literally be sitting at home on your computer having a coffee or sitting on the SeaBus on your cell phone and you’ll have your appointment booked, the intake forms completed all within the time it takes to finish your coffee or complete your SeaBus ride. Just go to foundationforintegratedhealth.com and click “Book your appointment”.
What are the long term goals and plans for the business generally?
We want to be the go-to clinic for our neighbours in the LoLo area need chiropractic or massage care. Many of our new clients tell us, “I didn’t know you were here!” I guess we have been hiding in plain sight at the Lonsdale Quay Market on the north end of the second floor.
Outside of operating your business what do you get up to in your personal time?
I’ve been a big skiing enthusiast since I was five when I started skiing on Grouse Mountain. My family and I like to take ski holiday’s to Whistler and we are “weekend warrior’s” getting up to the hills whenever possible in during the ski season.
In the warmer months we can be seen biking all around Greater Vancouver. The ride out to the Seymour Dam is one of my favorites. It’s great to be so close to nature but only minutes from LoLo.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like the community to know about you or your business?
We have had many patients who have been through the medical mill of doctors, referrals to specialists, physios or other chiropractors and we really are their “last hope”. Some patients use words like “miracle worker”. I wouldn’t be so bold but the fact is we really do provide answers to long standing physcial issues or injuries which many people have not found answers for. Consequently our referral base from our enthusieatic patients is fantastic but if any of your readers are not finding the relief they have been looking for then I would encourage them to give us a try. Your miracle could be just down the street.
Visit their website to book a service or ask questions
Chiropractic clinic location at #200 – 123 Carrie Cates Court in Lonsdale Quay Market
Customer service is firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-988-7080