November 17, 2004
Truck Stop Offers Realignment of Health
Bodies weary from the road can get massage, acupuncture and a checkup at the revamped Ward Road center.
— Ann Schrader - Denver Post Staff Writer
TravelCenters of America general manager Rick Browne talks with trucker Mike Stolle of Hesperia, Calif., in the truck stop restaurant. More than 3,000 truckers were surveyed to determine what services they'd like offered at the Wheat Ridge center. As a result, there is now the InnerPeace Wellness Institute for massages and herbal therapies, and a medical clinic in the parking lot. A barbershop is planned.
Ellen Bothner of Golden receives an acupuncture treatment from Kimball Ciccu at the truck stop. The wellness institute treats area residents as well as truckers stopping at the Ward Road travel center.
Wheat Ridge - On cross-country runs, truckers can develop some pretty tired shoulders and backs.
The solution for those aches and pains has been to stretch out in their sleeper compartments, or to roll into a truck stop for a break and a plate of biscuits and gravy. As of last month, truckers can have their spines aligned, muscles massaged and required health tests performed while they gas up at the TravelCenters of America plaza, at the Ward Road exit on Interstate 70.
The services also are available to local residents.
"If this pilot project works out, we'll do it across the country," said Rick Browne, general manager of TravelCenters of America.
The Ohio-based company owns 180 travelers' service centers across the country, including the Wheat Ridge site, which it acquired two years ago from 76 Union Station, and another at the I-70 Quebec Street exit.
Browne said ideas for the changes came from more than 3,000 truckers who were surveyed last summer.
Among the top suggestions: an on-site clinic for physical exams required for Colorado and federal Transportation Department certifications, a barbershop, a pharmacy and a holistic health center.
The Ward Road travel plaza, which is visited by 2,200 truckers a day during the summer, included a second-floor 14-room motel that had seen better days.
Browne is searching for a barber or hairstylist to relocate into motel space just down the hall from the InnerPeace Wellness Institute, operated by Kimball and Gregory Ciccu. In addition to aches, the truckers suffer from leg cramps and sleeping problems, which are treated with traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine and therapeutic massage. Services typically cost $60 an hour.
"A big part of what we deal with is lifestyle behaviors and creating healthy habits," Kimball Ciccu said.
The business is split evenly between truckers, who sometimes call in for appointments a few hours outside the metro area, and local residents.
Mike Stolle, a trucker from Hesperia, Calif., recently grabbed a to-go lunch.
"I've been here quite often, but I haven't gotten a massage yet," said Stolle, walking to his load of fencing materials.
Chiropractor Patsy Lowe operates a clinic in a trailer parked near the diesel behemoths. "Truckers can't take their rigs into the city to get into regular clinics," said Lowe, who operates seven days a week and welcomes walk-ins.
H&L Drug Compliance Inc. will offer alcohol and drug tests beginning Jan. 2. Browne said the travel plaza's transformation is part of a two-year process that will include doubling the facility's property when the Colorado Department of Transportation moves the eastbound I-70 exit and the city renovates West 44th Avenue.
On tap are plans for a 140-seat restaurant and a 100-seat food court.
"We're surveying the truckers now on which fast-food outlets they want," Browne said.