by Anna Ferraro
“I’m surrounded by ‘perfect employees,’” said Curt Keim, the owner of Physical Therapists Clinic Ltd. That’s quite a statement after having worked in the same clinic for over 25 years, with many of the same people for over 25 years. As for the patients who have visited his clinic, they would have to agree. There was something awfully special about the group of therapists that worked together at 1440 W. Walnut St. in Suite 2, and a lot of that had to do with the owners – most recently, Curt Keim.
Graduating from University of Illinois in 1976, Keim worked in Chicago for five years before coming to Jacksonville to establish a home with his wife and young family. Then, in 1981, he began working at Passavant Area Hospital in the physical therapy department.
Through the years, the face of physical therapy and how therapists work with their patients has changed quite a bit. Keim shared that in the ‘80s, he and his fellow therapists spent quite a bit of time visiting nursing homes and working with elderly patients. They also made rounds to small hospitals, explaining, “Back then, there weren’t any therapists in the hospitals. So, we would go there and work half days.” In 1990, Keim came on board with the Physical Therapy Clinic; he has been going strong in it ever since, alongside a fabulous staff, namely Verb Morrow, who was for many years, his business co-owner.
In the ‘90s, home health took off, and therapists began going into homes to work one-on-one with their patients. Keim stated that at that point, “We just went full board into the home health business.” Meanwhile, their home clinic in Jacksonville grew greatly, as well as their sister clinic in Beardstown.
Keim’s clinic continued thriving through the early 2000s, and even through its 25th birthday in 2016. Looking back on his career, Keim stated, “The whole thing’s been a highlight.” But to him, the true highlight is the patients. He shares, “We’ve had so many people come through here, and it’s all about helping them feel better.” Keim reflected, “But we need them as much as they need us. People need to be needed. These patients need us, and they keep us going.”
Keim’s clinic has only ever been going strong. He continued, “We’ve all been together 25 plus years. Everybody knows what they’re doing in the office. Our patients say, ‘This place runs so smooth.’” They’re not just smooth, though – they value the quality of their work, and their attitudes. One patient that had frequented the clinic for over four months shared to the staff, “None of your therapists ever said anything negative about anybody.” Keim agreed, “That’s true … the success of this place has been from the employees.”
Currently, Keim is working on sealing his retirement, a transition that’s been motivated by the opportunity for more babysitting sessions with his granddaughter. In the midst of his personal transition, there have been business transitions, as well, with Passavant purchasing the business and incorporating the clinic into their infrastructure. While still maintaining some of his work hours at the Beardstown clinic, and helping the Jacksonville clinic through this transition, Keim is looking forward to enjoying a slower pace and being around his family more. Through the transition of ownership, the staff at the clinic will remain the same, although the name will change to Passavant Rehab Clinic-Jacksonville.
Looking back on the years that he served patients in his clinic, Keim shared, “Therapists in general are so compassionate. We thrive on compassion.” But, in the midst of all the compassion that filled the workdays at the clinic, Keim stated emphatically, “We worked hard and we had fun.”
To his staff that was so highly praised by all who worked with them and received treatment at their hands – including employees Diane Barber, Cheryl Bumgarner, Starla Born, Laura Blackburn, Priscilla Cook (retired), Kim Heise, Scott Marshall, Beth Morrow, Mendel Newman, Cindy Prewitt, Eileen Suttles and Verb Morrow (former co-owner of business) – Keim offered his thanks and best wishes. He concluded thoughtfully, “It’s [been] a very fulfilling career. There’s nothing I would have rather done for the past forty years than being a therapist.”