ST. ALBANS –– A striking photo of Dr. Molly Keefe hangs under the light switch near the entrance of her office.
It is Dr. Molly as an adolescent, smiling at home in Champlain, N.Y. Her hair is black. Her smile is bright. She weighs 118 pounds.
“I don’t look like that anymore,” Dr. Molly said recently, at Back To Health Chiropractic, on Lake Road, behind the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. “Someday, though. Someday.”
She was a three-sport standout athlete then. Then, a teammate’s envy changed everything. As a freshman, Dr. Molly replaced a senior in a starting position during a basketball scrimmage. The senior accosted Dr. Molly and pushed her against a set of metal scaffolding.
Dr. Molly played through the pain. The next day, her legs stopped moving. She had a broken back.
That was one life-changing event that led Dr. Molly to her career choice: medicine. The other was a pair of childhood friends – identical twins. One died of leukemia. One was the perfect picture of health.
“I always wondered why there was such disparity between the two,” Dr. Molly recalled.
Dr. Molly was also class valedictorian. She turned down a full medical scholarship to Harvard, because her father had died, and she wanted to be closer to her mother. Instead, she studied genetic engineering in the State University of New York system.
Then she hurt her back again. By this time, she was gaining weight quickly and “popping pain meds like candy,” she said.
At the urging of Jill, Dr. Molly’s wife of three years – and partner of 25 – Dr. Molly succumbed to seeing a chiropractor, even though she thought they were “quacks.”
Her pain disappeared after three sessions, and she was off to chiropractic school. She opened Back to Health in the mid-1990s, on St. Albans City’s Main Street, but – to her own admission – spent years running a frenetic schedule that focused on her patients, her relatives and her friends.
She wasn’t caring for herself.
“And it showed,” she said. “In all sorts of ways. Even in my attitude. I wasn’t feeling well.”
Soon after Back To Health moved to Lake Road about five years ago, Dr. Molly turned the facility into the largest chiropractic office in Vermont. At 5,000 square feet, it contains: three chiropractic rooms, massage waterbeds, a sauna, a 1,000-square-foot exercise facility – with equipment – and a kitchen, for future cooking classes.
Enter her new vision.
Dr. Molly and Jill are in control of their health again. Their eating habits have changed drastically, they have slowed the pace of their lives, and they work with a personal trainer.
“I hadn’t exercised in years,” Dr. Molly said. “I’ve lost more than 170 pounds in five years. I feel fantastic.”
And now she wants to set an example for her clients, and potential ones, by turning Back To Health into a community health center, where she can bring in local specialists to hold programs (such as essential oils, starting this fall). She also wants to hold community events at Back To Health, such as a Ladies Night (also this fall).
Dr. Molly and her staff of four are also managing a nutrition program that focuses on whole, organic foods.
“For years, all we’ve focused on is pain,” said Dr. Molly. “Now, it’s wellness, and as insurance companies’ prices get higher, people are realizing wellness doesn’t have to be expensive.”
Dr. Molly still offers top-notch chiropractic services, and she uses a hand-held instrument (an activator), not manual technique – “no popping, snapping or cracking, of the spine, which many people fear,” she said.
Dr. Molly, Jill and their two adopted sons also lives five houses away from Back To Health, so Dr. Molly is available to all her patients 24/7.
“My patients can call me anytime, and I will see them,” she said. “I give my personal e-mail to all of them, and my number is listed. My job as a doctor is to be of service to my patients.”