Oak Harbor physical therapy clinic opens in familiar setting for owners

Jeremy Cornwell and his wife Brooke stand in front of the new IRG Oak Harbor Physical Therapy Clinic that opened this month. Jeremy is a physical therapist and co-owner of the clinic with Integrated Rehabilitation Group. Brooke grew up in Oak Harbor.

When Jeremy Cornwell got word that the first patient at his new physical therapy clinic in Oak Harbor was about to arrive, he knew the moment wouldn’t be right unless he shared it with his wife.

So he grabbed his cell phone and texted her.

Brooke Cornwell was sitting in her car waiting to pick up her daughter from kindergarten class when the text came in.

“I cried,” she said.

The opening of IRG Oak Harbor Physical Therapy in Oak Harbor this month was a momentous occasion for the Cornwells.

It’s the second clinic Jeremy Cornwell co-owns with Integrated Rehabilitation Group, joining a practice in Mukilteo that he continues to run.

But the new clinic on Cabot Drive in Oak Harbor holds sentimental meaning.

Oak Harbor is the city that Brooke Cornwell was raised, attended high school and holds the deepest community connections.

Her parents, Mark and Merrie Burley, operated Burley Funeral Chapel for 30 years before selling the business and retiring.

Opening IRG Oak Harbor Physical Therapy is sort like coming home.

“It means everything to us,” Brooke said. “It feels right to be here. We love Oak Harbor.”

It was through the relationships Jeremy developed on North Whidbey that got him thinking of expanding his business to Oak Harbor.

Jeremy, 36, worked for two years as a physical therapist at Whidbey General Hospital’s North Community Clinic before he became a partner at the IRG Mukilteo clinic in 2013.

He felt because of the high demand for services on North Whidbey, a new clinic could give patients another option and an opportunity to see a therapist more quickly.

Through his experiences, he said he’s found “the faster you get in to see a therapist, the better the longterm outcome will be.”

Cornwell said through the physical therapy he and others who work for him provide, the focus is getting patients back to more functional movement.

The new 2,300-square foot clinic at 275 SE Cabot Drive, near The Home Depot, is designed for that. Formerly the home of Navy Federal Credit Union, the space underwent a major renovation by Eagle Building Company of Freeland.

Cornwell saw the first patient Sept. 12.

“She was so excited to be the first one,” he said.

Although he oversees both clinics, Cornwell is still involved in hands-on, full-time patient care as a therapist.

Since he’s established in Mukilteo, he will be working from that venue; however, he also will treat patients in Oak Harbor depending on need.

Heading up physical therapist duties in Oak Harbor is Andrea Wood, who, like Cornwell, is a doctor of physical therapy. She specializes in musculoskeletal injuries and joint mobilization.

Wood, who lives on Fidalgo Island, began seeing patients last week.

Amber Walker, a physical therapist who also lives on Fidalgo, will be available in Oak Harbor on a limited basis, however, it is Cornwell’s hope for her to join Wood full-time at the clinic within a year.

In the meantime, Cornwell will be racking up more miles on his vehicle than usual.

He and Brooke live in Clinton, where they raise two children, Baylee, 6, and Boden, 4.

They’ve been married for 11 years after initially meeting in a geology class at Washington State University in the fall of 1999.

Jeremy remembers the day he met Brooke while walking down the aisle of a large classroom and searching for a place to sit down. He first sat across from her, then eventually chose the seat next to her.

“He said, ‘This is silly. Why don’t I just sit next to you?’” Brooke recalled.

A friendship eventually turned into a partnership and a life back on Whidbey Island.

They live in Brooke’s father’s childhood home built by her grandfather. And now, like her parents once did, they have a business on the island.

“There’s been tremendous support,” Jeremy said.

An official ribbon cutting will take place at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, and the clinic will celebrate with an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27.