Striving for 'Perfect Practice'

A new physical therapy office has opened in Montauk
Rachel Lys, a physical therapist from Springs who saw clients at the Montauk Playhouse Community Center, has opened her own business in the hamlet. Janis Hewitt

    East Hampton Physical Therapy is a new physical therapy office in Montauk run by Rachel Lys, formerly of the Montauk Playhouse. She opened it on Dec. 3 and the business is growing, but she wants to get the word out.
    The space is next door to the new offices of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk. Ms. Lys and her husband, David Lys, a personal trainer, transformed it, doing the work themselves to make it bright and airy.
    With walls, curtains, and room dividers in seafoam green, the office was designed to be a calming, peaceful spot, the physical therapist said. Treatment tables are toward the back of the long, narrow space for privacy. One table is designed to handle obese patients.
    All of the equipment is new and of the moment. “Nobody has the equipment we have,” Dr. Lys said.
    During a recent visit, one of her former patients from the Playhouse came in to congratulate her on the new office. She greeted him with a hug and asked how he was doing. As he was leaving, Rick Etzel said, “I have a lot of faith in your healing power.”
     Dr. Lys received her Doctor in Physical Therapy degree from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. Not long ago regulations went into effect requiring physical therapists to earn doctorate degrees for state licensing. “They’re trying to keep the respect going,” Dr. Lys said. “It also helps us with job security, because you can always find a job.”
    Not that she’s going to need to. She said she signed a long-term lease. “I’ll always be here for the Montauk people.”
    With three daughters under the age of 6, Dr. Lys found the cost of child care exorbitant. And that’s the reason she went out on her own. “I needed to have more than a penny in my pocket.”
    A resident of Springs, she started interning with the late Rich Balnis at East End Physical Therapy in East Hampton before moving on. When it came time to figure out what she would call the new office in Montauk, she was surprised to learn that MTK and 11954, the hamlet’s ZIP code, were already trademarked. As she is certified with the New York State Department of Education, she was forbidden to use certain words in the business’s name. Since Montauk is part of East Hampton Town, she went with that.
    Her mother made the curtains on the front windows and the table dividers. A huge black-and-white framed picture of the Montauk Lighthouse that hangs on an entrance wall was taken by her sister for her college thesis.
    “I feel like my family encouraged and supported me and will always be with me,” Dr. Lys said of the effort.
    Her receptionist, Viviana Araya, speaks fluent Spanish.
    Individualized attention is her focus, Dr. Lys said, calling herself a hands-on therapist. Patients are put through a routine so she can see how they’re doing on their own. “It’s not practice that makes perfect; it’s perfect practice that makes perfect. Your time is as valuable as mine.”
    The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.