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The Donaldson Clinic celebrates 25 years in Mill Creek

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The Donaldson Clinic staff at Brookdale of Mill Creek, formerly Merrill Gardens of Mill Creek, in 2014.
The Donaldson Clinic Staff at their Brookdale of Mill Creek community service day. Photo courtesy of The Donaldson Clinic.

By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.

As a professional basketball player James Donaldson was no stranger to injury. While he was playing for the Dallas Mavericks in 1989, he sustained a potential career ending knee injury, which resulted in a total knee replacement.

While Donaldson was rehabbing his knee he so greatly admired the way in which his physical therapist helped him to recover, that he decided to start up a physical therapy business with the intention of perhaps becoming a physical therapist himself someday.

Living in Seattle at the time, Donaldson partnered with a physical therapist to create the business plan that became the basis for The Donaldson Clinic; which helps people recover from injuries with physical therapy, massage therapy, and mental health therapy.

According to Rosemary Bennetts, The Donaldson Clinic’s Operations Manager and Clinic Director, the partners did their homework and researched three or four different communities before pinpointing the up and coming Puget Sound community of Mill Creek as a place with the greatest growth potential.

Donaldson didn’t become a physical therapist, but The Donaldson Clinic opened its doors for business in Mill Creek in November of 1989.

Bennetts was The Donaldson Clinic’s first hire in November of 1989. She came on board as a jack of all trades office worker tasked with everything from submitting insurance claims to typing out invoices on the then state-of-the-art IBM Selectric typewriter to helping out the physical therapist with some procedures.

The Donaldson Clinic has grown substantially in 25 years and now Bennetts directs a staff of 23 including ten therapists.

Bennetts said that one important aspect of The Donaldson Clinic’s success is their focus on customer service, “James and I share a vision, and the vision is excellent customer service.”

“I know a lot of businesses say that, but we really mean it and we have a lot of longevity. I’ve been here 25 years and we have two physical therapists who have been here 15 years, some others who have been here for 12 years.”

“People come and they like the vision and the vision is that we want to make every patient happy. Now that is an impossible task, but it doesn’t mean we don’t ever give up trying and we take it personally if people don’t have a good experience here.”

Bennetts said that Donaldson gets a lot of satisfaction in knowing that his clinic provides the environment for people to heal physically and mentally, “The business that has his name follows his vision and allows him to participate in people’s rehabilitation from injury.”

Donaldson successfully rehabbed his knee in 1989 and went on to play professional basketball at a very high level until he retired for good in 1999. He has recently been reelected to the Board of Directors of the National Basketball Retired Players Association and will begin his second three-year term in February of 2015. He is also involved with a number of business ventures in China.

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