Realizing the business plan

Wellspring reaches its goal of offering one-stop shopping for holistic health services in Juneau

Posted: Tuesday, January 30, 2001

After 10 years in business, Connie Trollan finally has completed her original concept for Wellspring, what she calls a "well health center."

Trollan, a nurse practitioner and health counselor, originally envisioned her business as a one-stop-shopping spot for holistic health services. Wellspring offers a wide variety of services from massage and acupressure to normal prescriptions and pre-natal care.

Wellspring's staff members include a family nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife-advanced nurse practitioner, a naturopathic doctor, an acupressurist-craniosacral therapist, a counselor and several massage therapists.

The idea, Trollan says, is to help a person be healthy in body and mind, and stay healthy through self care. Wellspring "promotes the unity of the body, mind and spirit as the wellspring from which to live," according to a company brochure. The theory behind holistic health care is to treat a whole person in relation to the mind, body, lifestyle and other factors and not just their illness.

Combining Western medicine and complementary treatments is something that a lot of patients do, so it makes sense to combine the two schools of thought, said Cindy Ebelacker, president of the Alaska Nurse Practitioners Association. (Nurse practitioners can prescribe medicine and do most things a doctor can do except admit and treat patients in a hospital, Ebelacker said.)

"It's kind of nice when you marry the two," she said.

But that doesn't mean combining Western and Eastern styles is widespread, at least in Alaska. Of the more than 400 nurse practitioners in the state, Ebelacker said she couldn't recall anyone who had the range of services that Wellspring offers.

Combining the two makes sense, she said.

"That's kind of what (nurse practitioners) do is look at the whole person," she said.

Nationally, combining Western medicine with Eastern holism is not new.

"It's been around for quite some time in metro areas," said Dr. Jan Towers, director of health policy for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Over the last decade, the idea has been moving into rural areas.

Towers said she believes holistic medicine has been better received in the last decade because of the Internet and television. People are better educated and at the same time are looking for other ways to get treatment without taking more chemicals, she said.

There are about 70,000 nurse practitioners nationally, she said, but it's a pretty small number who would have the amount of services Trollan has included in Wellspring.

"Not everyone would have (an acupressurist) in their practice," she said.

Trollan opened Wellspring with friend Mary Lou Follett in 1990. The two shared the same vision, but ended up taking very different paths.

Trollan had been asked to help re-establish Romania's nursing organization after the fall of the communist government a few years before. She was interested, but first had to concentrate on the business.

The next two years were spent growing the business with Follett, Trollan said. In 1992, she started traveling to Romania for several months at a time. Over the next five years, she spent from two to six months a year overseas.

In 1995, Follett struck out on her own. She now runs her own office, taking phone calls and appointments herself.

"I'm real happy with that," she said, and the two remain friends.

In 1997, Trollan decided to concentrate her energies on Wellspring. A couple years of delays resulted when she wasn't sure if the business would move out of Juneau or stay put; she chose the latter.

Last fall, all the pieces of her plan fell together and she went from five people working at Wellspring to 12 in one massive expansion.

"It's what we always envisioned," Follett said. "(Trollan's) got great visions and she makes things happen."

Trollan has 11 employees plus herself crammed into the small office condominium. But that's it - no more growing the business, Trollan said. Wellspring is out of office space and she doesn't want to move.

Now that Trollan has the business set up the way she wants, she again is planning to devote more of her energies to Romanian nursing. She never stopped working with Romanians, but she hasn't traveled there since 1997. Instead she has kept in touch mostly through the Internet and phone calls, she said.

Trollan is planning a month-long trip there in August to continue working on a nursing book that is meant to be translated into Romanian.

Trollan, 58, has no plans to slow down or retire.

"I have too many things I want to do," she said.

Mike Hinman can be reached at

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