Williams’ Therapy Serves the Community
By Claudia Mosby
On a Friday afternoon, the mood is light as patients chat with their therapists and one another in the physical therapy room at Marquis Care Shasta. Some are mobile, some are not, but hope is in the air.
The post acute care rehabilitation facility is home to Williams’ Therapy, whose patriarch Hal Williams has a long and distinguished presence in the Redding community. Best known as the founder of Redding Physical Therapy, Fit for Work and Redding Fitness Center, Williams ran the trio of businesses for almost 30 years before selling them to Mercy Hospital 15 years ago.
In the late 1960s, when Williams noticed new construction across from Enterprise High School, he contacted the Seattle-based owner, who welcomed his services at the new Shasta Convalescent Hospital.
“When I sold Redding Physical Therapy and the other businesses to Mercy, I held onto the convalescent hospital contract,” says Williams. A visionary move, it has allowed him to create a home base at the newly owned and renamed facility where he began his career. He and his staff offer physical therapy services to seniors making a three- to four-week transitional stay between hospital and home.
In spite of an abundance of physical therapy services in town, Williams runs a thriving practice. In fact, he has employed many of the Redding area physical therapists and PT assistants at some point in their careers.
Many are friends who found new opportunity as a result of their association with the PT don. “Steve Westlake took over the sports therapy end of my business,” says Williams, who started a program to meet the needs of high school athletes at sporting events.
“They had a need and I volunteered to meet that need,” adds Williams, who put Westlake in charge of contacting schools to see if they wanted a physical therapist on field at events. “Many of those kids didn’t have insurance, so we had them come over to Redding Physical Therapy and treated them for free.”
Notwithstanding his success, Williams has faced some dark moments. His son Van had a car accident at 20 that left him paralyzed. “That was the most difficult time of my life,” remembers Williams.
A proud Williams says his son Van was the first paralyzed student to attend physical therapy school in the United States. Today he is a therapist and partner at Shasta Physical Therapy and Shasta Physical Therapy West.
Mike Odell, PT assistant and director of rehabilitation at Williams’ Therapy, was paralyzed from the neck down in a vehicle accident at 19 and was told he would never walk again. Williams had treated him previously after a knee surgery and made arrangements to send Odell to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and then supervised his physical therapy upon his return to Redding.
He had been in therapy for awhile, working on regaining strength, when Williams says, “We dumped him out of his chair and said ‘Get back in the chair by yourself.’” Odell rebelled but Williams held firm. “We said, ‘You either get up off the floor or you’re going to spend the night there.’”
After a thoughtful pause, Williams adds, “That’s not the way you’re supposed to treat your patients, by the way, but he did get up and get back in his chair by himself.”
Odell recognized the caring behind the tough love and today not only walks but assists others in their own recovery. “I look back on it now,” he says. “At 19, that’s what I needed. ‘Either get better, or go home.’”
Williams enjoys the patient care aspect and says he is not ready to retire, adding, “I tell my employees, I’ve never really worked a day in my life.”