“Where children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.”

Early Days

“Family approach, whole-child care, and working as one team” are all words you can expect to see used to describe Milestones Pediatric Therapy Center. Founded by three remarkable women, Milestones seeks to serve its patients with the utmost care and respect.

Since its founding in 2000, Milestones has grown from a team of three to a facility with over 100 employees. Co-founder Jennifer Griffith reflects, “We felt that there was a need for a therapy clinic that would serve children of all abilities with the most compassionate and innovative care anywhere in the Rio Grande Valley – we never anticipated the growth!”

Co-founder Misty Standard’s background in speech pathology (focusing on swallow studies) allows her to make meaningful strides with her patients. She also has an undergraduate degree in health care administration and finance, helping Milestones run like a well-oiled machine. “In the beginning, it was an all-hands-on-deck approach. I would see patients from 8-6 and then start my second full-time job of billing and collections at night. From the start, building this clinic has been a labor of love,” Standard said.

Current Culture

The commitment from the founders in the early days still carries the clinic forward today. Co-founder Carmen Pagan, “Milestones is our ‘baby’ and we see each patient as our own family,” she shared. “We truly believe in working in a collaborative atmosphere where each discipline learns and problem-solves together for the betterment of the child,” Pagan said.

Patients can expect to have all disciplines of the clinic working on their behalf, including:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Social Work

In addition, Milestones makes an effort to involve patients’ family members as much as possible to provide the most comprehensive care for each child. “We believe that an integral part of the child’s care team is the parent,” notes Pagan. “Without them, we would not have a complete understanding of the child and how to best serve them.”

Ongoing Education

As a lifelong learner, Griffith is committed to creating an atmosphere of perpetual growth among her staff. She does this through various mediums, including the Lunch and Learn program at Milestones. Once a month, staff members across disciplines bring sack lunches to the office and learn together about new techniques and innovations in pediatric rehabilitation.

Milestones leadership is passionate about training between disciplines in their ongoing education. “We believe our Occupational Therapists (OTs) have something to learn from our Physical Therapists (PTs) and our PTs something to learn from our Speech department and vice versa. When we all collaborate and learn from each other, we become stronger and more well rounded in our own disciplines, which in turn makes us a better asset to the children we serve,” Griffith shared.

Matching her fellow co-founders’ passion for continuous improvement, Pagan has also looked for every opportunity she can find for continued education. She is especially passionate about neurodevelopmental treatment and is certified in Neuro-Development Treatment Association (NDTA). Her passion for pursuing further education has led many of her staff members to follow in her footsteps and receive training in NDTA.

“I believe education and knowledge are meant to be shared. If I can teach other therapists and they go on to help even one patient, that’s a win in my book,” Pagan shared. Through collaborative learning like Lunch and Learn, Pagan models what it means to go the extra mile for every child they serve.

Success at Milestones

According to Griffith, their patients’ parents are their strongest advocates, and much of their growth is due to their testimonies.  Choking back tears, Standard remembers one patient who profoundly impacted her career. “Several years ago, we received a patient who had been told he would never speak or be able to swallow on his own,” she shared. “My team and I were determined to make a difference in this little boy’s life and committed to his family that we would do everything in our power to realize his potential.” After years of unrelenting effort, he uttered his first phrase, “I love you,” the first of 10 phrases he developed working at Milestones. He was even able to eat ice cream on his own, which was a life-long dream, thanks to Standard’s swallow work and the collaboration of the OT and PT departments.

Standard believes that through the team effort within the different departments, their therapists were able to “uncover how his systems interrelated with each other to create a comprehensive plan for whole-body growth.” His parents are confident that without this all-encompassing approach, their son would not have reached the potential he was able to achieve at Milestones.

Through 24 years of quality care, these incredible women have created a thriving practice while raising their families. All three have raised their own families in the clinic, and they see Milestones as an extension of each of their families. Through the strong mentorship among staff members and the unrelenting commitment to each patient, Pagan, Griffith, and Standard embody the true qualities of La Jefa as they lead their staff to go above and beyond for each child. The Rio Grande Valley is a better place because of these three outstanding women and their profound work in the community.