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Jax Daily Record Monday, May 4, 202005:20 AM EST

Wellness center shifts to telemedicine

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Founder and President Melissa Fenton closes her studio but is seeing about half the number of patients she normally would remotely.
by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

Two months after Melissa Fenton moved her Mind, Body and Beyond Center into a new, expanded space in San Pablo, she and her practitioners were seeing patients through telemedicine from home.

Fenton is the founder and president of the mental health and holistic wellness center, which offers therapy, acupuncture, yoga, physical therapy, life coaching, massage and other wellness services. 

The new 3,600-square-foot location at 14215 Spartina Court in the Pablo Professional Park is nearly three times the size of her previous space at 13500 Sutton Park Drive. 

After stay-at-home orders were issued, Fenton decided to close the studio and offer clients the option of seeing practitioners over telemedicine instead. 

Some services she offers, like yoga, acupuncture and massage, are suspended.

With the larger location, she saw some new clients come in before the shutdown. 

Over telemedicine, she is seeing about half the number of patients she normally would, but the clients she is seeing are benefiting from a different type of therapy.

“One positive is that I get to go into my clients homes per se, through telehealth,” she said. “So many of them love for me to see their animals, maybe some awards they’ve gotten or personal touches I wouldn't be able to see if they came to my office.”

Her acupuncture studio was forced to close with Gov. Ron DeSantis’s elective surgery ban. Although that is lifted May 4, she will wait to reopen until guidelines are more clear about liability related to a patient or practitioner becoming infected.

The reopening of her studio will be gradual, she said.

Those in her office who handle hands-on treatments like acupuncture, massage and yoga could not continue working.

Fenton’s administrative assistant and two mental health counselors have been working from home.

She has three employees on the payroll, and the rest are independent practitioners.

She applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan to help cover salaries.

“This won’t make up for the rent and utilities, but I’ll use my income and other resources just to keep my business afloat until we can return to a more normal work environment,” she said.

Fenton said she is disappointed she is not able to immediately continue growing the business in the new space, but finds some positives in the situation. She was able to finish new certifications, and plan for the future of her business.

“It hasn’t broken my spirit,” she said. “I’m still very encouraged. I see it as an opportunity to pause and reflect on what has been working and where our challenges have been these few months we’ve been open.”


 

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