St. John Physical Therapy owner Jessica Schnell is passionate about her career that helps patients improve mobility.
“I have a certain standard that has to be met. I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t doing 100 percent,” she said.
Schnell said she gets a lot of satisfaction seeing her patients return to the lifestyle they had before injury or pain made movement difficult.
“All I did was show them the right way to move,” Schnell said.
Schnell, 28, opened St. John Physical Therapy in November 2011. In April Caitlyn Yengo, 34, joined the practice as the occupational therapist and massage therapist after the two met while shopping at Advance Auto Parts on St. Thomas.
Yengo holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in occupational science, both from Ithaca College. Before moving to the Virgin Islands, the Albany, N.Y., native who grew up in Wellesley, Mass., worked for the Ithaca school district doing occupational therapy, helped her husband run his restaurant, and worked in an early infant and toddlers program.
She moved to St. Thomas in July 2011 after her husband got a job. He works for the Westin Resort and Villas. She spent a year working for the Department of Education providing occupational therapy services. The couple moved to St. John in October.
Until Schnell opened St. John Physical Therapy, patients had to go to St. Thomas for help. However, Schnell said she also gets patients coming over from St. Thomas. She and Yengo also do home visits from their office in the Amore building located near the Cruz Bay roundabout.
St. John Physical Therapy accepts insurance, including Medicare.
The practice sees patients of all ages, including children and seniors.
With the addition of Yengo to the practice, St. John Physical Therapy now offers help with fine motor coordination.
“I can teach things like how to put a shoe one,” Yengo said.
The two work as a team.
After graduating from Antilles School, the St. Thomas-born Schnell went off to the mainland to get a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University. She went on to get a doctorate in physical therapy from Nova Southeastern University before moving to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to work as a physical therapist.
After a few years in Florida she and her husband, Michael Schnell, decided to return home. Her husband grew up on St. John, so the two decided to settle there.
“I always had the desire to come back and meet a need,” Schnell said.
Daughter Gisella, called Ella for short, was born two years ago. Schnell said because her practice is small and she plans to keep it that way, she’s able to balance motherhood and her career.
It also helps that her mother and father, Carmen and Steve Schuler, are nearby on St. Thomas and her husband’s parents, Deborah and the well-known potter Donald Schnell, are on St. John.
While she enjoys her career and “loves being a mom,” she said she dislikes the paperwork that goes along with the practice. However, she said she can do it at home while keeping an eye on Ella and other household matters. And she said it helps that her husband was a business major because he gives her a hand.
As for the future, Schnell said that she doesn’t anticipate too much growth in the practice but she would like to have a larger space so she can have more equipment.
“And Ella will be working here,” she said, laughing as she talked about how she answered the phone for her father’s construction business when she was about age 12.
St. John Physical Therapy can be reached at 1-340-514-2376.