By Laurelle Walsh
Winthrop Physical Therapy and Fitness has new owners: Jenna and Brett Kokes.
In what is clearly a win-win for all involved, Jenna Kokes, a Methow Valley native and doctor of physical therapy, returns home to launch her professional career, and a valley institution will be able to evolve in a way that its founders have always envisioned.
The transaction was made official at the end of April, and Winthrop PT and Fitness founders Janice and Pete Dickinson are pleased with the way things worked out.
“I couldn’t be happier that it’s Jenna,” said physical therapist Pete Dickinson. “And I couldn’t be happier that it’s Brett,” added business manager Janice Dickinson, dissolving into laughter.
The new four-person management team combines decades of clinical and business experience with the new talent and energy that will allow the practice — now in its 15th year — to keep growing, said Pete Dickinson, adding, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m still very much part of the practice.”
“The only changes are good changes,” said Janice Dickinson. “We’ll be able to offer even more services to our local clientele.”
The same, but better
The practice now boasts three physical therapists — Dickinson, Kokes and Lisa Sawyer — as well as physical therapy assistants Tedra Acheson and Jill Duncan, and adjunct physical therapist Colleen Ryan.
“We have an amazing group of people here with diverse specialties,” said Pete Dickinson.
Kokes, a 2012 graduate of the University of Montana, brings to the practice a specialty in the treatment and prevention of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.
Dickinson and Kokes plan to start an ACL injury prevention camp, with special emphasis on soccer, volleyball and basketball players. “There’s currently an ACL injury epidemic, especially among girls in school sports,” Dickinson said.
A long-term goal of Winthrop PT and Fitness has been the promotion of physical activity for training and health, said Dickinson. “I now have more flexibility in my schedule to teach fitness classes, and do more outreach in the schools and community,” he said. He also plans to continue teaching courses to physical therapy professionals around the world and helping to train the U.S. biathlon and Nordic ski teams.
Janice Dickinson will continue to run the front office along with bookkeeper Monika Courtney and receptionist Patty Christensen. Brett Kokes will assist with facilities management and operations at the fitness center.
“The only changes will be more availability and more fitness care,” said Jenna Kokes. “It’s the same, but better.”
Jenna Upper Kokes, daughter of Winthrop residents Cathy and Bennet Upper, grew up on Cub Creek and graduated from Liberty Bell High School in 2003.
She left the valley to attend Colorado State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in equine science.
Returning to Washington state, she decided to apply to graduate school in physical therapy. She worked as a physical therapy assistant in Redmond, Wash., and volunteered at Winthrop PT while waiting to be accepted into a doctoral program.
Kokes first became acquainted with physical therapy when she was being treated for soccer-related knee injuries during high school. “I’ve had four knee surgeries,” she said. “That’s how I met Pete. He made me cry.”
During her graduate studies at the University of Montana, Kokes designed a study at the university’s movement science laboratory that investigated contributing factors to re-injury in patients after ACL reconstruction surgery. She presented her findings, which are currently under review for publication, at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.
After graduation, the Kokeses moved from Missoula, Mont., to Wenatchee, where Jenna has worked for the past two years at Confluence Health (formerly Wenatchee Valley Medical Center) physical therapy center.
Brett Kokes grew up in northeast Colorado “in the middle of nowhere,” he said. He is a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Entiat, and hopes to land a fisheries job in the Methow Valley.
The couple are expecting their first child in late September.