The Healing Sanctuary is located at 187 E. 13th St. To learn more about services provided at the clinic, or to schedule an appointment, visit healingsanctuary.clinic or call 208-497-0500.
For the last decade Dr. Jeffrey Baker had a vision on how he truly wanted to practice medicine.
Forgoing the idea of “throwing pills at a patient and sending them on their way,” Baker looked to take a different approach, focusing on the root cause of people’s ailments.
“I always felt that, if the stars aligned, I could practice medicine more purposefully,” he said. “The stars did align, and it felt inspirational and felt like it was what I needed to do.”
It is a practice termed integrated functional medicine, and Baker and his staff of 35 employees are implementing it at The Healing Sanctuary.
“It’s integrating different things to help heal, if you would, or remedying the problems the patients are having,” Baker said. “We’re looking at many different things with the patient and finding the root of their problem, whether it’s stress at home, at work, or poor diet.”
The Healing Sanctuary, 187 E. 13th St., provides a variety of health care options, including family medicine, women’s health services, IV therapy, and holistic care.
It is a dream project for Baker. But in the process of achieving this goal, he has also helped revive an Idaho Falls landmark that had fallen into disrepair.
Brick by brick
When Baker decided to start his own practice, he knew help was needed. That is when he turned to local businessman Stephen Loosli.
“He made the decision to go out on his own, but he doesn’t know much about business and I certainly don’t know anything about medicine,” Loosli said. “So we decided to back each other up and start something new.”
Loosli brought a variety of business experience to the effort. He’s worked in sectors ranging from real estate development to computer software.
After Baker and Loosli decided to make their dream a reality, the next step was to figure out a location for the Healing Sanctuary. And neither person wanted the location to be a run-of-the-mill looking clinic.
“It was the first thing we discussed,” Loosli said. “Would we rent something cheap or build from the ground up? What would we do? The more we looked at real estate and the cost of all the fancy clinics over by EIRMC and Mountain View, the more we thought ‘that doesn’t seem right.’”
Instead, they wanted the location to match the idea of the Healing Sanctuary — they wanted something innovative. That reminded Loosli of an old building he frequently passed by in Idaho Falls.
Opening in 1931 as a chapel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the building has seen many occupants in the years since it stopped serving as an LDS chapel in the mid-1980s.
Most recently the building sat vacant for more than a decade.
Several attempts to restore the building fell through. It would be a frequent site for vandalism and squatters, and area residents were afraid of the impact it was having on their community.
“It was at the risk of falling apart from the inside out,” Loosli said.
Baker and Loosli purchased the building in 2016, and renovations began. But restoring the building to its former glory was a tougher task than both individuals imagined.
“We really thought we’d be in and out of this renovation in six or seven months,” Loosli said. “Even with our trained contractor reviewing it, it looked like it would be that easy. It certainly didn’t turn out to be that easy.”
The Healing Center opened in a temporary location in early 2016, but renovations on the former chapel took 14 months longer than anticipated, Loosli said. It moved into the former chapel two months ago even as construction was ongoing in some parts of the building.
Baker and Loosli are planning a public open house later this year.
Neither Baker nor Loosli would reveal how much it cost to purchase and renovate the 13th Street building, but both agree it was worth the investment.
“It ended up costing us more than if we would have purchased land and built, but not by much,” Loosli said. “But we could not have built this quality brand new. Although we spent more, we have more. We have a higher-quality building than we would’ve found from a blank piece of paper.”
And by renovating the facility for the Healing Center, Loosli said the property value in the surrounding neighborhood and spirit of the community has seen a resurgence.
“We wanted to feel like we’ve done something to help and give back to the community,” Loosli said. “We feel like we’ve really helped this part of town.
“It’s just a giant battery of positive energy that was stored up.”
Idaho Falls resident Kayla Smith has been seeing Baker as her primary physician for nearly 20 years . So when she heard Baker was opening up a new clinic, Smith was excited about the style of care that would be available.
“It just seems like everything he is doing makes you feel better,” Smith said. “And when you walk into the new building, it’s not like a doctor’s office. You feel a warm, real comfortable feeling. I always just leave there feeling encouraged.”
That was Baker’s goal in opening the Healing Sanctuary.
“When I saw this place, it just felt right. And it’s the same thing we’re trying to do for people,” Baker said. “It’s kind of a metaphor for what we’re trying to do for people’s lives — restore it to optimal health. And we wanted to do the same this building.
“We did it, top-notch. And we’ll leave that legacy to the Idaho Falls community.”
Reporter Marc Basham can be reached at 208-542-6763.