Coast 2 Coast Wellness: Your Queer Physical Therapy Connection

Coast 2 Coast Wellness is a locally run physical therapy and wellness company run by the wonderful Dr. Michelle Stauffer. After years in the medical field she decided to fight the queer inequality she saw. Coast 2 Coast Wellness is exceptional in that she offers mobile visits, telehealth appointments, and wellness coaching. Every client has walked away not only feeling better but possessing the knowledge necessary to stop further injury and lead full lives. Her focus on education and accessibility is truly a testament to her genuine care for her clients. Once a month she also holds a free physical therapy session for people on Medicaid and the underinsured. Check out her social media for dates and availability.

Don’t have equipment? Don’t know where to start? Dr. Stauffer would be happy to talk to you about what you need!

Interview with Coast 2 Coast Wellness

GayDenver:  How would you describe Coast 2 Coast Wellness?

Dr. Stauffer:  Coast 2 Coast Wellness is as much as its title as I can make it, trying to be a whole-encompassing holistic wellness business for specifically the queer community. Specifically, I’m currently doing physical therapy and health wellness coaching. Altogether that makes for coast-to-coast coverage of your health seller.

GayDenver: Tell us about yourself. 

Dr. Stauffer: I’m originally from Phoenix, Arizona, and I was the unfortunate kid in sports who got hurt young and often. I was around physical therapy so much growing up, I gravitated toward it as an adult.  I pursued my degree in Flagstaff, Arizona, where I got a degree in exercise physiology, chemistry, and health wellness coaching, then pursued a doctorate of physical therapy degree at the University of Colorado Anschutz. My whole life has been centered around physical therapy and all the aspects of wellness that play into it. Working through and with injuries and surgeries is something I’ve been through personally my whole life. I’d say it’s the core of who I am and everything boils down to that.

GayDenver: You advertise as a queer-owned business, being a cis lesbian. Was that an easy step to take?

Dr. Stauffer: That’s where maybe my stubbornness comes in. This is who I am, I’m proud of who I am. I want my business to serve the queer community and have them know that they’re safe. Leading with that information creates that bridge.

This is a safe, inclusive space, and if anyone didn’t want to work with me, then that’s on them. I know that not everyone is your customer. You can do your best to try to encompass as many people as possible, but I know who I’m trying to help.

The people who are heterosexual that I’ve worked with, by coming to see me for either health coaching or physical therapy, they feel like they’re being a better ally by doing so. 

GayDenver: You focus on a holistic approach. What does that mean exactly?

Dr. Stauffer: When I think holistic, I see it as a thorough understanding of you as a person not just a person with an injury. Broadening the focus is my preferred approach because so many elements of life can play havoc with an injury. What do you do for a living? How do you feel about your injury? How do you feel about yourself in relation to your injury? How do you spend your free time? How is your stress level? What is your diet? How is your sleep?

All of those different things play into your healing of the injury or pain or anything else. That’s what holistic means to me. Let’s think about all these different factors that you might not think play into what’s going on and build a way for you to move on and better your life.

GayDenver: How wide a range do you travel to meet people? Is there a per-mile charge?

Dr. Stauffer:  I currently reside on the West side of Denver. My current drive radius is one hour from my house, and all that’s factored into my cost. It’s a simple flat fee with no surprise costs. Traffic and construction don’t play a factor. We make sure you’re getting the care you need and that doesn’t become a barrier. That’s where the virtual comes into play because if you are beyond that one hour, virtual may be a better option.

GayDenver: How do virtual meetings work with physical therapy?

Dr. Stauffer: Clients can choose virtual appointments with me for all kinds of reasons. You may be feeling ill, or outside my driving radius. With COVID we saw the rise of telehealth appointments and they apply to physical therapy. My methodology is my hands are off, your hands are on. I’m educating you on what to look/feel for. There are many different movements that I can ask you to do on the video call that will pinpoint where the issue is. I don’t require any special equipment, everyday items around your house can suffice.

GayDenver: Your mobile treatment plan was to fight inequality. Can you elaborate on that?

Dr. Stauffer:  For anybody that isn’t aware the LGBT+ community is particularly under-resourced. When you start adding additional minority factors to it, the statistics get very disheartening. My hours of operation are much broader than the typical doctor’s office that is open from 8 to 5. By driving to the patient or meeting them virtually, I hope to eliminate a few of the obstacles a person may be facing in seeking treatment. 

I’ve worked in health care for 15 years and in that time I’ve seen many situations where a person was discriminated against for their sexual preference or orientation. I want to lead by example: helping anyone and showing them respect.

GayDenver: How are you able to not use the equipment?

Dr. Stauffer: A mentality has taken over a society where if you don’t have the equipment, you can’t be healthy. This simply isn’t true, looking around your house many items can weigh from 20 to 50 lbs. Part of the educational process is the core of my methods and is beginning to broaden your awareness of your surroundings and how your body interacts with them. Acknowledging how heavy objects are and how your body reacts to them outside of a formal setting is incredibly useful! That’s not to say I’m anti-equipment, if you have it let’s use it. If you want to buy something, I’m all for it. It’s important to me to not overlook someone that doesn’t have that kind of access.

GayDenver: Would you like to highlight any of your other services outside of physical therapy?

Dr. Stauffer: I also offer health coaching, which is another layer to wellness coaching. It’s foundational coaching through changes in lifestyles and nutrition. So, many of my patients feel that they have strong nutrition but won’t acknowledge how fatigued they are daily, how they get headaches so often or things of that nature. These things aren’t normal.

It’s difficult to describe because it is so individually based. We start by acknowledging where you are and what your goals are. The more common goals are weight loss, stress management, and fatigue. We break down nutrition, stress factors, history, lifestyle, finances, and self-care to understand what obstacles are in your path and what tools you already have to succeed. From there we build.

GayDenver: Do you accept any forms of insurance?

Dr. Stauffer: No, I don’t accept insurance, but I do accept HSA. Insurance is a hassle for both patients and myself. By cutting them out, I make my services cheaper and easier to access by making them broader and more specific to each patient’s needs.

GayDenver: Are you still providing pro bono services to people on Medicaid?

Dr. Stauffer: Yes, once a month I will hold sessions for 8 people that are without insurance or on Medicare. You can find more information about that on my socials and website.

GayDenver: Is there anything you would like to say to the readers?

Dr. Stauffer: Don’t be afraid to reach out to a physical therapist, whether that be me or someone else. In Colorado, you can walk into a physical therapy clinic off the street and seek services no matter what your insurance situation is. Whether they have availability for you, that’s where the caveat comes in. You don’t need to see your primary care, a specialist, or anybody. You can go to a physical therapist first and they are trained to know if they should send you to the ER, cardiologist, or whomever, based on their findings.

Follow me on social media and laugh at my pets. Let’s all stay well together.


Jeff Wilson
Author: Jeff Wilson

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