When Dr. Leila Borders learned that her boyfriend, Dr. Keaton Jones, was considering a position at Olympia Multi Specialty Clinic, she agreed to accompany him out west reluctantly. Born and raised in a Georgia town of just 500 people, she had already spent four years braving Cincinnati winters during her residency and was ready to return to warmer climates.

“I told Keaton before we left, ‘I’m coming out here, but we’re going back to Georgia,’” says Borders. Then an interview at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, combined with a walk downtown, convinced her otherwise. “I was so excited that I bought a shirt that said ‘Olympia’ and gave it to him that night at dinner,” she laughs. “I said, ‘We’re moving here.’”

Dr. Leila Borders Olympia Orthopaedics
Dr. Borders enjoys working with patients to make the outcome of their surgery more successful through focusing on overall wellness. Photo courtesy: Dr. Leila Borders

As it turns out, Borders and OAA are a perfect fit. She did a residency in internal medicine (general primary care for adults) and a fellowship in sports medicine, which means she can take care of athletes while helping patients with their overall health. “It’s all non-operative orthopedics but with my internal medicine background, I do primary care for some athletes and then also I’m hoping to introduce a weight management component,” she explains.

While OAA has many surgeons and physicians who specialize in areas like foot and ankle or knees, they were lacking a doctor who could evaluate the whole patient. “We didn’t have an internal medicine specialist who could look at someone and say, ‘Here are a few things we can do to get you even better,’” says Sports Medicine Program Coordinator Rebecca McClinon. For example, a patient may have a high Body Mass Index (BMI) that may complicate or compromise the effects of surgery. “If we can lower their BMI, we know that their surgery is going to go smoother and their outcome for the total knee or lumbar spine is statistically going to be better,” she explains. “We want to make them as healthy and optimized for surgery as we can.”

For her part, Borders appreciates OAA’s mission of life in motion. “I really like the concept of keeping people healthy,” she says. “Typically, you come to your doctor when you’re not healthy and you want to get well. Through internal medicine I got into weight management and helping people get to where they want to be. Then through sports medicine I got to do a lot of ‘let’s keep you active and healthy.’ If you have an orthopedic problem that’s limiting what you can do, let’s do everything we can to get back to what you want to do.”

Dr. Leila Borders in Puerto Rico
Outdoor adventures are nothing new to Dr. Borders, pictured here exploring a bioluminescent bay in Farajdo, Puerto Rico with her mother. Photo courtesy: Dr. Leila Borders

Since moving to Olympia July 2, Borders has jumped into her new life with both feet. Through OAA, she has conducted physicals for athletes at Saint Martin’s University, The Evergreen State College, and South Puget Sound Community College. Once the school year begins, she’ll be acting as Team Physician at Evergreen, while also managing the sports medicine needs of all the sport teams at Tumwater High School. “She’ll be wearing a lot of hats,” says McClinon. “Outreach is a big piece of our sports medicine center, and all three of our non-surgical providers do a lot of community service.”

On the home front, Borders has also settled in. Within two days of her arrival, a pair of neighbors introduced themselves and invited the couple to a gathering and neighborhood association meeting. “Keaton was joking that in Indianapolis he lived in the same house for three years and never met anyone,” says Borders. “We’ve been here for three weeks and we’ve pretty much met the neighborhood.”

Borders and Jones have also been camping at Mount Rainier National Park and explored Priest Point Park near their home. “I really like outdoorsy things, so we’ve been camping and having a good time,” she says.

Once she begins treating patients on August 20, Borders is looking forward to being part of their healing process. Unlike practicing internal medicine in a hospital, as she did during her residency, doing sports medicine will allow her to see patients’ get better and eventually return to the activities they love. “In sports medicine, people come in and say, ‘My knee has been hurting for 10 years. I’ve stopped walking and stopped running,’” she explains. “Using different modalities, we can figure out what’s wrong and usually fix it to an extent that they can get back to what they want to do. It’s extremely nice to see that side of it.”

Dr. Borders and Dr. Jones at Mt Rainier
Since arriving, Borders and Jones have gone camping at Mount Rainier, discovered Priest Point Park and visited Portland. Photo courtesy: Dr. Leila Borders

As for Olympia, despite her early hesitancy, she’s here for the long haul. “We came here with a mindset that ‘This is our home now,’” she says. “We want to settle and raise kids here, so we’re approaching everything we do like we’re going to be here for the next 50 years.”

That’s music to McClinon’s ears. “Dr. Borders is going to be an integral part of our surgical readiness program, helping patients have the best possible outcome from their surgery,” she shares. “She’s the missing piece that we’ve been seeking.”

To learn more about the services provided by Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, visit the Olympia Orthopaedic Associates website or call 360-709-6230.

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