A physiatrist at Lakeview Spine, Jeff Ventre is a former chiropractor and fun spirited outdoorsman. He believes that strong partnerships are critical in promoting healthy lifestyles, as people often support the things they helped create. Jeff works in the realm of pain, treating spinal cord injuries and other back problems. More specifically, he specializes in the area of medicine that focuses on bones, muscles and nerves. His goal is to help his patients be free of pain and live more active lifestyles.
What inspired you to choose medicine as a career?
I was born in Ohio, but moved to Florida as a young man. I spent my early days there through college and through my experiences at the Marine Park in Orlando. My connection with killer whales is what brought me to the Pacific Northwest because I knew that this is where they lived. When I was scouting out colleges for chiropractic school, I was looking at Minneapolis and Portland… and Portland won. I was able to go up to the San Juan Islands on a regular basis and do some field work with killer whales at the Center for Whale Research which is a famous place that has been doing a photo identification study for killer whales since the late '70s. I became a part of that in 1996. I still go see the whales regularly to this day, including the last few months. Portland was my home for eight years, and then I decided to go to medical school.
Do you have a philosophy or approach to working with patients?
I think patients just want to feel better. I'm dealing more in the realm of pain than I am like infectious disease so people don't come to me with a runny nose. They come to me because they have low back pain or a spinal cord injury. If I can, I think it is important to have a connection. I think patients appreciate that. If they can believe in you and you can work with them, it's gratifying for everyone. The simple answer is that most patients want to get out of pain and they want to lead a more active life. That is where I come in.
What do you appreciate most about the doctors and staff you work with?
What I love about Lakeview Spine is the chemistry that we have. We just get along really well. We have common interests and we are on the same team. I really enjoy coming to work.
What do you like about Yakima?
You have the mountains, the river, and the sunshine. I grew up waterskiing, but that's kind of moved to electric skateboarding now. Since I've been here working at Lakeview Spine, I've gotten some really great support. It is fun to work here and fun to be in this climate. I've lived on the west side and loved it. I had the choice to stay there, but I chose to come here and I'm really happy I did.
Tell me a little known fact about you or talk about what you like to do outside of work.
In the late '80s into the mid-'90s, I was formally a marine mammal trainer at Sea World in Florida and I worked with killer whales, dolphins, false killer whales, beluga whales, pacific white-sided dolphins, and a few other different species. It was a great experience to have. I'm very thankful to the company for hiring me. I eventually fell out of favor with the idea of keep keeping killer whales in captivity and that led me to a role in a feature US documentary at Sundance Film Festival.