Blair Wilkinson said she finds comfort in a small-town community.
Blair Marie Wilkinson, better known as chiropractor Dr. Blair, is testimony to the adage that there is no place like home. When Wilkinson Steiner started her practice at The Creswell Wellness Center in May 2019, it was more a homecoming than a relocation.
“I like knowing my neighbors and finding comfort in a small town,” Wilkinson said. “Also, I grew up in Cottage Grove, and my grandmother lives in Creswell, so the community was familiar.”
Starting a healing practice close to her hometown has a bit of mystery attached to it.
“Precisely at the time I was looking for opportunities, The Creswell Wellness Center posted the position on Facebook,” Wilkinson said. “I took that as a sign.”
Working out of The Creswell Wellness Center, Wilkinson enjoys being in The Friendly City’s nucleus.
“Growing up in Cottage Grove, you always ran into familiar people around town or at celebrations like Bohemia Mining Days. You knew everyone in town,” she said. “Creswell is still like that. The only weird part of all of it has been dealing with the Cottage Grove/Creswell sports rivalry even though the schools are in different divisions.”
Cottage Grove Lion pride remains in the blood for this former volleyball and track and field athlete who won state as the lead leg in the 4x100 meter relay in 2008, then placed 12th in the javelin at nationals her freshman year of college in 2009.
Coming to Creswell, Wilkinson filled the shoes of the late Dr. Tamara Blum. The reception given to Wilkinson honored the Friendly City’s motto, she said.
“The community has been very supportive, from the clients I inherited from Tamara to her husband, Al, I have felt warmly received,” she said. The warm reception follows her into the office where, “One of the highest compliments I receive is when I’m told, ‘You’re a lot like Dr. Blum.’”
Jeannette Montagu of Cottage Grove met Wilkinson in July of 2017 while attending Bohemia Mining Days. Montagu was experiencing crippling sciatic pain as she walked amongst the booths and stopped when she could no longer endure. The booth owner directed Montagu to the chiropractor’s booth nearby where Wilkinson broke with standard booth protocol, treating her on the spot.
“She relieved my pain,” said Montagu, but that was only the start. “A year after that, I had a horrific car accident when a semi-truck hit me going 75 miles per hour. Everything in my back was torqued and twisted. Dr. Blair and her husband came to the hospital multiple times to treat me. I wasn’t supposed to walk again, but today I’m pain-free, hiking, and living a normal life.”
One of the healers at The Creswell Wellness Center who offers herbal guidance, acupuncture, and massage therapy, Wilkinson said of her approach to chiropractic: “I’m science and evidence-based. I use techniques of adjustment and alignment to treat the spine and the whole body to heal itself. The body wants to heal itself.”
Dr. Blair’s professional aspirations started at a young age.
“My mother took me to see a chiropractor when I was 13, and I started thinking about it then, but in those days men disproportionately represented the profession,” Wilkinson said. “I thought it was a ‘man’s profession’ because of its physical demands.”
Looking at alternative ways to work in health, she tried a brief stint learning about becoming a dental hygienist, but spending all day in other people’s mouths did not have the same appeal. She started working as a chiropractic assistant with Dr. Greg Blanchfill in Yoncalla and he encouraged her and said there was no reason a woman could not be a chiropractor.
After graduating from high school, Wilkinson took her undergraduate degree from Northwest Christian College before enrolling at University of Western States for the rigorous three-year doctoral program in chiropractic. A bonus of her time at Western States was meeting her eventual husband, Manuel, a fellow chiropractic student in the program who now practices in Springfield. And, yes, they do treat members of the family, which includes the family cats, dogs and a horse.
“When the coronavirus emerged, The Wellness Center was uncertain how to respond,” she said. “We thought it best to close for two weeks and figure things out. Initially, there was unclear advice from Oregon’s Chiropractic Board, but we followed advisories from the Oregon Health Department. When we reopened, it was with heightened protocols for the safety and sanitation of our clients.”
Those precautions have altered Wilkinson’s schedule from her regular four patients per hour to two, so they can thoroughly sanitize between clients.
“Many clients needed care they couldn’t receive,” she said. “We’re adding hours to the schedule to accommodate the need.”
Accommodating the need, adding hours to help clients, being part of a community; that’s Dr. Blair, who, when asked if she has a core philosophy about healing, said, “Acts of service … that’s my love language.”