Holes in traditional health care lead to holistic approach in Truckee
Special to the Sun
TRUCKEE, Calif. — From a physical therapy office in Truckee to the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, the landscape of health care in the United States is shifting eastward.
“You can’t treat one part of the body without examining all the parts together, and that’s what an eastern medicine approach does,” said Kyle Briggs, co-owner of Vitality Primary Care in Truckee — a one-stop shop for traditional Chinese medicine treatments like acupuncture, herbology, counseling, bodywork, nutrition and yoga. “It’s an all-encompassing approach to treating patients and helping people in a complete, total body way.”
Briggs co-owns the practice with Barbara Ferrero, who he met — and subsequently fell in love with — while attending graduate school at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego.
“We have different strengths, but we share the same end goal of helping people feel better in a therapeutic and preventative way,” Ferrero said. “And we practice what we preach on a daily basis — we live it.”
The Argentine-turned-Californian mother of two laughed as she shifted her youngest son from one hip to the other at her office in the CR Johnson Healing Center in Truckee, adding, “it also works out great because we’re able to hold two kids at the same time.”
NAVIGATING AN ALTERNATIVE PATH
As a professional basketball player and personal trainer, Briggs always led a considerably healthy and active lifestyle, but it wasn’t until a basketball injury that he discovered the benefits of herboloby, acupuncture, and alternative health care.
“I was already pretty healthy by western standards, but I started tweaking my diet according to eastern therapies, and within two weeks, I had no swelling and no pain, and I was immediately intrigued by the power of that treatment and the underlying philosophy around it,” he said.
At the time, Briggs was finishing up his first year of medical school in Czechoslovakia, where he received a scholarship to play on the school’s basketball team.
“I was really interested in medicine, and I knew the field was for me, but I started to recognize that I didn’t agree with a lot of the techniques in western medicine, especially the heavy use of pharmaceuticals,” Briggs said.
Likewise, Ferrero had been struggling with a bicycle injury that caused excruciating pain in her sciatic nerve.
After countless tests by multiple doctors, the pain worsened, and so did Ferrero’s hope for recovery.
“No one knew how to fix it and at the time, I didn’t know much about the body,” Ferrero said. “I finally got fed up with it and opened up an anatomy book to figure out what was going on, and I was immediately fascinated.”
Through personal research and pure determination, Ferrero discovered her back pain was a result of postural problems — an injury she could treat naturally through yoga and massage.
“That experience really opened my eyes and made me realize this is what I want to do with my life,” she said.
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME
In 2011, Ferrero earned her Master’s degree in Chinese medicine with Briggs following suit in 2013, launching them into their new career as well as a new family.
After a stint in China studying at the Chengdu Traditional Medicine Hospital, the couple returned to San Diego and opened a holistic healing practice centered on acupuncture, yoga, message, orthopedics, mental health, personal training and nutrition.
“We call it primary care because we really can treat anything,” Ferrero said. “Basically, anything you would go to the doctor for, we can treat, but instead of just containing the systems, we can actually help patients to heal, which is really fulfilling.”
In the summer of 2014, with one baby in tow and another on the way, the couple followed their longtime dream of moving to Truckee to open an eastern medicine practice, and to be closer to Briggs’ parents.
“I was raised in Grass Valley and grew up coming to Tahoe all the time, and I’ve always wanted to come back and live here,” Briggs said.
As soon as the couple settled into their new home in the Sierra, they heard a rumor that the High Fives Foundation was looking to share their space with some sort of holistic health care practice, and the couple jumped on the opportunity.
“It was so serendipitous the way it all worked out,” Ferrero said. “Not only do we get to work with this great group of people at High Fives, but we get to give back to these athletes and patients in a way that is so rewarding for both of us.”
Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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