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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Paying it Forward

Published April 26, 2010 2:54 PM by Jon Bassett
There's nothing like having a major decision you've made be justified through future developments. That's what happened in the ADVANCE editorial department a few weeks ago.

Last December, we profiled Elite Physical Therapy, a three-clinic Rhode Island practice that won our Best PT Practice Contest for 2009. It's always a monumental decision, and a lot of work from our judging panel goes into picking a winner. Once the announcement is made, there's no going back. Fortunately, so far, all of our past winning clinics have proven deserving of the crown. Elite is no exception.

Along with a few other perks, the winner of our annual contest traditionally receives a $1000 cash prize. But when I contacted Michael Nula--owner and manager of Elite Physical Therapy--to get a name and address for the check, he surprised me by asking whether he could donate this sizable sum to an educational fund that had been set up for a 1-year-old girl.

The child, Gianna Brini, had lost her mother Amanda in early 2009. Amanda had been a therapist at Elite. Previously healthy, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was 7 months pregnant with Gianna, and passed away just a few short weeks after giving birth. She was 27 years old. You can read more about Amanda in the closing section of the cover story linked above, and you can follow her husband Daniel's compelling story here.

As for donating the cash award, Nula didn't do it for PR motives. In fact, he didn't want it mentioned at all in the article, and would probably object to my making it known here. But I respect his gesture so much that I felt obligated to write about it.

I also believe there's a larger point to be made about physical therapy and successful business practice. PTs aren't simply service providers--they're members of the community that interact with their neighbors on a level few other professions are privileged to. Personal relationships are the engine that keeps a good clinic running.

Nula and the Elite team have embraced the concept of community presence, as you can read about in the story. And whether or not such small gestures are done for personal gain, they have a way of coming back to you in waves.

Do you have a similar tale of going above and beyond, and has it paid dividends whether you planned it that way or not? What are some strategies for community goodwill you've found especially powerful?

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