The Woman Behind The Centre, P.C.
Source: SASSY Magazine, January 2014
From the high fashion streets of New York City to the Michiana area, Lain Ruch Downs, the Executive Director of The Centre, P.C. shares how she started a medical practice with her husband, Dr. Ronald K. Downs, a board certified plastic surgeon, all while raising a family centered around traditional values.
When we spoke to Lain Downs, the Executive Director of The Centre, P.C., in Mishawaka, she was hesitant to talk to us at first.
“I don’t normally do this sort of thing,” she laughed. “I don’t want to talk about me. I want to talk about all of the wonderful people I work with!” Humble as she may be, Lain’s story is one that embodies everything that Sassy is all about—serving women in the community with grace, elegance, and passion. In the story of The Centre, P.C., as is the case with most things in life, behind every great man is one heck of a woman running the show.
A Background in Banking:
Lain, who basically built The Centre P.C. almost literally from the ground-up, had a rather unconventional start into the world of plastic and reconstructive surgeries. Lain had her start in banking.
“I was a private international banker in New York City for Banco de Credito del Peru,” Lain remembers, where her ability to speak conversational Spanish made her perfect for the position.
“I had a window office at 52nd & Park Ave and it was great. I thought we would never move, that I had really ‘arrived.’ International banking was incredible.”
After ten years of banking in the Big Apple (and 15 years of marriage), Lain and her husband moved to Chicago where Dr. Downs completed his Plastic Surgery Residency at Rush University Medical Center.
While there, the medical director of the Plastic Surgery Program asked Lain to manage one of his senior attendings in plastic surgery’s office.
“They said, ‘Do you understand money?’ and I said, ‘yes,’ and that’s how I entered the world of plastic surgery administration,” Lain recalls. “I was afraid as I knew nothing about healthcare but I thought it would be interesting.”
Making the Move:
And interesting it must have been because she’s been at it for more than twenty-three years! The real question though is how Lain and Dr. Downs found their way from the big city to Elkhart?
“At the end of his residency in Chicago, [my husband and I] decided we liked the values of the Midwest,” Lain explains. Although the couple’s two daughters hadn’t been born yet, Lain and her husband knew that they wanted to raise a family together in a traditional family-oriented community. “We loved Chicago,” Lain says, “But we didn’t want to be right in the city.”
When the couple came across an opportunity with Elkhart General Hospital for a plastic surgeon, they knew they had to take action. “Ron wanted to start his own practice,” Lain remembers. “I said, ‘I’ll give you one year and then I’m going to do my own thing—that was 21 years ago!” she says with a laugh.
While continuing to work full-time at her original job as a plastic surgery administrator and still living in Chicago, Lain built her husband’s new practice from the ground up while leasing a space still in the construction phase. She oversaw and directed the entire construction from another state.
All in a Day’s Work:
As the Executive Director of The Centre, Lain’s role includes “anything and everything!”
From meeting with the professionals behind the scenes to strategic planning to making decisions about the practice, every day is busy for Lain. “I multi-task like no other,” Lain says. (And she’s not kidding! She was giving instructions to her CPA on the phone during our interview!) “It’s very challenging right now because of the changes occurring in healthcare. I used to think banking was challenging.”
“My primary role is to make sure things go as smoothly as possible,” she continues. And because she works all day in the office with her husband and his partner, Dr. Patrick Viscardi, Lain jokes a little saying, “I always say I have two husbands during the day now!”
Meeting the Needs of Women:
As a full-service and comprehensive professional plastic surgery office, The Centre not only offers on-site board-certified plastic surgeons, their own state-licensed ambulatory surgery center and rehabilitative services for both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeries but they also offer clients a relaxing “escape” in their Medical Rejuvenation Spa.
The spa offers non-surgical treatment options with an expert team made up of licensed aestheticians, certified massage therapists, licensed cosmetologists, and a certified medical aesthetic nurse.
Licensed professionals provide all the treatments in the spa making The Centre stand out in its dedication to combining medicine with a beauty-centered focus. “We wanted to offer everything all under one roof,” Lain says.
While some may view plastic surgery as vain, Lain looks at the work The Centre does in a very different way.
“I think we only have one life and if you look in the mirror and have the ability and the means to change something that is affecting you, then why not?” she says matter-of-factly.
Beyond the cosmetic services that The Centre provides, Lain has a special passion for the reconstructive surgeries that her team takes part in each and every day, especially for women affected by breast cancer.
“All of us have loved ones affected by breast cancer,” Lain says quietly. “It’s truly a journey and ours is the positive part of the journey. We’re going to bring you back to a state of whole.”
The Centre also offers occupational therapy following certain surgeries, like those involving the hands or in women with breast cancer who have experienced extensive tissue scarring.
“We can work on those areas without surgery and give them wonderful, magical results,” Lain says proudly.
Lain also prides her Center on its dedication to treating women holistically, beginning with a consultation for each client who walks through the door.
“The consultation is huge,” Lain explains. “In some places in the country you consult with a coordinator; here you consult with the surgeon.”
With that one-on-one attention and dedication to helping each woman, Lain affirms that in some cases, The Centre works to help women see that beauty runs more than skin deep.
“Do we turn people away if we feel like their interests aren’t in line with realistic expectations?” Lain says. “Absolutely.”
A Beautiful Future:
Lain sees a continued need for the services that The Centre provides to women and in the community going forward in the future.
“It’s funny because I never had a manicure until I was married,” Lain explains. “But now, there’s a lot we can do to stave off the effects of old age and care for ourselves in a way we have not had the technology to do and it’s only going to get better.”
So does Lain have any plans to take advantage of The Centre’s services herself?
“When I can, I will take advantage of injectables, certainly,” Lain asserts. “I have sensitive skin and I love our products. I need to have some laser work done but right now there is no time. I feel like the shoemaker’s daughter! I will, though, absolutely go under the knife. Let’s just say gravity hasn’t been kind to me! I too have the desire to look and feel better”
Lain is proud of the work she does with The Centre and although she recognizes and respects each woman’s right to privacy and secrecy—a mainstay of The Centre’s operating philosophy—she sees that more and more today women are not ashamed to take steps for their own health and well-being and share the outcome with others.
“Twenty-one years ago if someone saw you coming to our doorstep, you might get talked about; now our culture of wellness and self-care has changed that,” Lain says.
Although Lain and her husband are both native East Coasters (she was born and raised in upstate New York, while her husband hails from Philadelphia), the couple identifies strongly with the values of the Midwest.
“The reason we moved here is because we had grown up with strong value systems and we felt those values were prevalent here in the Midwest,” she explains.
Lain also found the “entrepreneurial” spirit of Elkhart to match her own drive and motivation. “It was perfect,” she says simply. “It felt like a fit. It’s very exciting to create and to see something grow; to know that you were capable of doing that.”
Beyond her enthusiasm for Elkhart’s entrepreneurial opportunities, Lain cherishes the opportunity to get involved within her community.
“I am very pro-community,” Lain states. “I go grocery shopping with everyone at the end of the day. I give to my church, home, and professional communities. I think that’s huge and I really try very hard to be active in the community.”
Beyond her involvement in both the St. Joe and Elkhart communities, Lain was chair of the Elkhart Chamber and also the chair of the Plastic Surgery Administrative Association nationally. More recently, she co-chaired the Still Dancing in Elkhart for the Elkhart Samaritan Center and prior to that she chaired the Faithful Lives Dinner for The Foundation of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center alongside her husband.
And part of the reason that Lain knows the importance of giving back and getting involved is her own family; Lain and her husband have two daughters, both teenagers, aged 18 and 13. But don’t feel bad for this busy and involved mother of two, she wouldn’t have her life any other way. “I always have worked full-time,” Lain says. “I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t.”
Bringing an impeccable sense of New York fashion, an entrepreneurial spirit and raising a family with traditionally-centered values would be impressive enough for any Sassy woman’s resume but there is one secret that helps Lain balance it all.
“I called The Centre [that name] because it was the ‘center’ of my world,” she says simply.