From its 1984 founding by a single physical therapist in a drafty barn of a building in Moline to a family of 61 clinics stretching across three states, Rock Valley Physical Therapy has remained patient-centered and therapist-owned. Its CEO Mike Horsfield clearly is passionate about that business model and about the family atmosphere and patient-first, […]
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From its 1984 founding by a single physical therapist in a drafty barn of a building in Moline to a family of 61 clinics stretching across three states, Rock Valley Physical Therapy has remained patient-centered and therapist-owned.
Its CEO Mike Horsfield clearly is passionate about that business model and about the family atmosphere and patient-first, hands-on care he believes it engenders at the large and ever-growing group of clinics founded by Milan native Steven Layer.
So much so that Mr. Horsfield, who became CEO in 2011, still gets emotional when he talks about a decision by Rock Valley’s physical therapist partner/shareholders to unanimously reject an offer by a private equity firm to buy into the business. He’s clearly proud of the fact that the entire group of partners eschewed the bigger profits that may have come with the consolidation and private investment models becoming prevalent at private medical practices.
Instead, Mr. Horsfield said Rock Valley’s partner shareholders – who these days number 22 – will continue to grow what is already one of the largest therapist-owned families of clinics the way it has from the start: by adding like-minded, no-referral-needed, patient-first clinics and clinicians eager to live by its motto: “Making Better Lives.”
Not every new location is the result of a new partnership, however. The next four Rock Valley Quad Cities locations, for example, are coming in response to an unexpected challenge. The four new sites expected to come on board in October are the result of ORA Orthopedics ending a longstanding agreement under which Rock Valley’s clinicians provided care to ORA patients at ORA’s Quad Cities facilities.
Beginning Oct. 1, ORA will take care of its own physical therapy services. To protect the Rock Valley therapists’ jobs, the partners created new places for their employees to care for their patients.
“We’re excited by the opportunity, but sad to see that part of our story come to an end,” Mr. Horsfield said of ORA’s decision. He also expressed gratitude for Rock Valley’s 38-year relationship with ORA and said he is confident many patients will follow Rock Valley’s displaced therapists to one of Rock Valley’s new strategically located clinics at:
- 4500 E. 53rd St., Suite 200, Davenport.
- 900 W. Kimberly Road, Suite B, Davenport.
- 110 N. 1st St., Eldridge.
- 850 43rd Ave, Suite 300, Moline.
“Once a patient sees a Rock Valley therapist they usually want to come back to them,’’ Mr. Horsfield said. “They value having a family therapist just like having a family dentist, doctor or someone they can count on at all times.’’
That’s one of the things that brought Wendy Bloomhuff, a Rock Valley regional manager, back to the place where she began her love affair with physical therapy.
The St. Ambrose University graduate worked at Rock Valley in Moline before circumstances led her to take a job in a private practice in Des Moines. That didn’t work out, she said, so she reached out to Quad Cities colleagues seeking new opportunities there and ended up heading a Rock Valley clinic in Clinton, Iowa.
After nine years in Clinton, she was ready to return to her Quad Cities Rock Valley roots for “the mentorship, and the healthy challenge not only to be the best therapist you can be, but the best person you can be,” she said. “That makes a difference.”
Rock Valley, she added, allows its team members “to build a practice within a practice,” where therapists can “come in here from Day One and feel like they own their own clinic.”
That sense of family and community is important to the team members with whom the QCBJ spoke. Those team members have the same sentiments for Rock Valley’s owners and leaders who Ms. Bloomhuff said “truly believe our greatest value is in our people, and you see it time and again.”
For example, there was the partnership’s decision during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to do whatever it took to keep all their employees on the payroll and in jobs, even the recent graduates.
“You never know your culture until you test it,” Mr. Horsfield said of those days. “It was an amazing time for us. Our culture really came out. We kept the clinics open. Everyone took a little bit less” in order to protect what he calls Rock Valley’s brand: “all the individuals that our organization is made up of.”
That culture also is part of what has persuaded dozens of other clinics and nearly 500 team members to enter the Rock Valley fold to “Make Life Better” for its patients. “It’s just humbling to be part of this organization,” Ms. Bloomhuff said.
The organization and its tagline are among the things that led Steve Weiskamp to bring his group of 13 Integrated Therapy Specialists Muscatine area clinics under the Rock Valley umbrella in 2018. The eastern Iowa clinics are located in Columbus Junction, Danville, Durant, Mt. Pleasant, North Liberty, Muscatine, West Branch, West Liberty, West Union and Wilton.
He had been talking for years with partners who owned Rock Valley, which at that time operated a single clinic in Muscatine. “I told them I’m tired of competing with you guys,” he said. “Will you sell me your clinic in Muscatine?”
In the end, Mr. Weiskamp opted instead to become Rock Valley’s 13th partner and regional manager for the new southeast Iowa region. These days, he serves as vice president of business development and is busy adding other clinics to the fold, including one in Grimes, Iowa, in March.
Overall, Rock Valley’s clinics spread across Illinois, Nebraska and in Iowa, including in the population centers of Des Moines, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. The latter includes a partnership with Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Orthopedics that was inked in January 2020. Under that agreement, Rock Valley – which already had locations in Cedar Rapids and Marion – partnered to provide physical therapy services at the PCI Medical Pavilion. It was in addition to existing partnerships with PCI Ear, Nose and Throat/Head and Neck Surgery Clinic and the PCI Vestibular Therapy clinic.
What’s next for Rock Valley? Continued growth is all but certain, especially with the deeply committed missionary for hands-on, patient-first, therapist-owned practices Mr. Horsfield at the helm. Often the clinics themselves approach Rock Valley with an interest in joining the partnership. Others are sought out.
Among the forums Mr. Horsfield has to spread his patient-first gospel is the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association, of which he serves as president. Nearly 4,000 members strong, the association includes therapists from around the country.
It’s also another way the otherwise modest Mr. Horsfield can exercise what he calls his “Peace Corps gene” – which he says most physical therapists possess – to convert others to the cause of putting patient-care ahead of the profit-first model.
Or as he puts it: “If you can prove that doing the right thing is profitable then more companies would do the right thing.”
Rock Valley PT: At a glance
Began as single Moline clinic in 1984.
Founded by Steven Layer.
Boasts 61 locations in three states.
Four new clinic sites opening soon.
Committed to remaining therapist-owned.
No referrals are needed.
Accepts most insurance.