By LYDIA BERGLAR
Derek and Crystal Hancock opened Healing Roots Family Practice so that they could offer patients a comfortable, understanding family practice that serves multiple ages. The practice opened in May 2022.
Crystal worked as a family nurse practitioner for years before opening the new practice, and Derek, who oversees the office, is a registered nurse. Paul Ballinger also works with them as a physician assistant along with other staff members.
The Hancocks hope that the practice will be convenient for families. “If a mother goes here, she can also bring her kids,” said Crystal. “They’re not having to jump from place to place.” She noted that they mostly see children starting at age six and see people all the way to “100 and beyond.”
They hope to be a comfortable option where patients feel heard. Crystal explained, “Our goal was to start a practice where everybody feels included, where they’re not judged on any aspect of their life. We can’t help people if they don’t talk to us. If someone needs me, I want to be there. I don’t want to say, ‘We don’t see sick people so you need to go to urgent care.’ I want people to have a place of inclusion.”
While practicing medicine during the height of COVID-19, Crystal witnessed difficulties facing people who tried to access health care. “What happened with COVID is people didn’t have access to healthcare because the hospitals were shutting down and there were a lot of restrictions on letting people go in to see their doctors. Opening a practice has always been a goal of mine, but the COVID era pushed me to do it.”
Healing Roots accepts nearly all major insurances and Medicare. They have a self-pay rate for those without insurance.
Located at the corner of North Pine Street and Canary Avenue in Trenton, the 1950s building had always been a medical office until it shut down several years ago. Dr. Filler practiced there for many years, and the Hancocks bought it from his family.
Crystal said, “Everyone knew Dr. Filler. He saw the whole family, he delivered babies. He was one of the old-time doctors who did everything.”
Along with remodeling the building, the Hancocks also went through insurance credentialing and were able to complete everything necessary to open the practice in about five months.
Healing Roots’ tagline, “Traditional Medicine with Natural Options” notes the desire to bridge the gap between traditional and natural remedies. Crystal explained, “Traditional medicine, or allopathic medicine, includes pharmaceuticals. We also try to offer some natural approaches to patients in terms of diet, lifestyle, vitamins and herbs that may help.”
She continued, “I have patients who care nothing about the natural route, and I have others who don’t want any medicine and only want natural remedies. Most people are somewhere in between. You don’t have to be one or the other. I’m not a natural path; I’m traditionally trained, but over the years of experiences, continuing education, and learning from my own patients, I’ve picked up little natural things that can help.”