New physical therapist ‘loving life’ in Sanders County

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Kate Latorraca is more than enjoying her move to Plains, loving the community she has recently joined. (Erin Jusseaume/Clark Fork Valley Press)

Clark Fork Valley Hospital recently welcomed new physical therapist (PT) Kate Latorraca to the team, and she has hit the ground running.

Latorraca grew up in St. Louis, Mo. After finishing her undergraduate studies in Biology in Wisconsin, she returned to St. Louis to work in a botany lab at Washington University.

“I’ve always been a ‘people’ person, so it didn’t take long for me to realize that lab work was not a good fit. I ended up volunteering at Barnes Jewish Hospital in the PT department, and I was hooked,” she said.

She then attended PT school at Northwestern University, graduating in 1985.

“I worked in Milwaukee and eventually in Madison with a few different jobs in both IP (inpatient) and OP (outpatient) settings. For the last 15 years, I have been working in an outpatient orthopedic setting in Madison with some per diem work at Stoughton Hospital in the IP unit,” Latorraca explained.

Latorraca said one of the biggest drawing cards for her taking the position at Clark Fork Valley Hospital was the opportunity to work with providers and staff across all departments on a daily basis, and as well as a cross-care basis for patients.

“One of many great things about the PT profession is working with colleagues in the field as well as other health care providers who are kind, friendly, honest, responsible, and dedicated folks. I enjoy sharing and learning from my co-workers. I’m also always looking at new ways to improve my PT practice with continued education,” she explained.

WITH HER love for providing an enjoyable PT experience for her patients, she strives to utilize all options available to her to ensure she is giving each patient 100 percent care every time.

“I enjoy the challenge of figuring out root causes of impairments and looking at the big picture when treating patients. Each muscle is a separate entity in itself, however, when we move there is a natural flow that directly or indirectly affects every muscle. If one muscle along the chain is weaker, tighter, or off balance from the others, then all the muscles along the chain will be affected and influence the patient’s ultimate function. Along with orthopedic rehab, I also have an interest in osteoporosis and women’s health,” she said.

Along with those added interests, Latorraca is also a level-1 certified international instructor for Essentrics health/fitness.

The unique full body work out is a way to effectively keep you in shape by combining elements of yoga, pilates, tai chi and ballet.

The workouts not only help with mobility and flexibility, it has energizing elements to it and improves your overall circulation, posture, strength and overall body health.

“It’s a remarkable workout. I have set myself a goal of working through all four instructor levels. It does take time, but I’m looking forced to achieving that goal in the future,” Latorraca explained.

Having taken up the latest fitness workout, Latorraca said that what she likes most about the Essentrics is how it was developed.

“I think it aligns alongside physical therapy as it has had input from doctors, and can be a great assist for everyday living,” she said.

TAKING FULL advantage of her accreditation as an instructor, Latorraca is now holding classes at the hospital’s event center that run through Oct. 21.

“Anyone can do Essentrics, it’s designed to help people of all fitness levels,” Latorraca said.

Now as she settled into life in Plains she said it is the lifestyle and landscape that is really taking hold of her.

“I love how I can ride my bike to work, pass deer and be able to run small errands,” she said. ”Everything is so easy and simple even down to getting the mail.”

She said it was a nice change of pace and is looking forward to when she can host her family on visits to her new home town.

Latorraca has three successful daughters to which she beamed with pride — describing each of their achievements.

“They’re all in their late 20s; my oldest daughter lives in London,” she said, adding she had just changed companies but is very successful within her field of work.

Her middle daughter has just finishing her PhD in Computational Biophysics at Stanford University, and is planning two continue working in a Post Doc. position as yet undetermined.

Her youngest daughter is a professional violinist with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.

Latorraca’s father and sister reside in Oregon, and she feels this was the best move for her from Madison, Wis.

“There’s a lot of forward thinkers here, it’s just so remarkable with the team here at the hospital the openers of wanting to help each other for the greater good of the patients we see,” she said.

Now, as the seasons begin to change, Latorraca is looking forward to getting out and enjoying some winter activities, such as cross-country skiing.

“This move was really a leap of faith for me, but my gut feeling told me this was the right move to make and I haven’t looked back,” she said.

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