Practice owner and operator a ‘motivated, driven and selfless person'

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2008 Healthcare Hero
Nicole DeRue
Physical Therapist

DeRue, 26, is originally from Rochester. She has been working as a physical therapist in the outpatient clinic setting since graduation in 2005. In August of last year, she purchased Fairway Physical Therapy North in Central Square.

Antonia Annarumma thinks quite highly of DeRue's capabilities. DeRue was Annarumma's daughter's physical therapist at Fairway Physical Therapy North. "My daughter is 18 years old and has been out of high school since 2006," Annarumma said. "She has been indecisive about her future. Nicole, in her nurturing and caring way, not only helped my daughter physically, but she put her on the path of becoming a physical therapist assistant," Annarumma said. "She has been a huge influence on not only my daughter but I am sure many others who will go on to follow in Nicole's path and continue to serve and give back to our community," she added.

Marion Reynolds, who also nominated DeRue, also shed praise on the physical therapist.
"I have never met a more motivated, driven and selfless person than Nicole," she said. "She is constantly looking for ways to give back to her local community." She noted at Fairway Physical Therapy North, DeRue had a children's gift drop off during the holiday season, and then personally wrapped each gift and delivered them to the children herself.

Karen Rother had nothing but kudos for the award winner. "She successfully coordinated and executed a local food drive for underprivileged families in the local community," Rother said. "Nicole is an extremely generous individual. She is always willing to go above and beyond to help not only her patients, but also the Oswego community regardless of the personal time it may cost," she added.

"I take pride in helping people with professionalism, sincerity and respect," DeRue said. "Doctors refer for the excellent care my clinic is known for and I have return patients and referrals from former patients." DeRue has owned the facility for a mere six months, yet has seen an incredible 25 percent increase in clientele compared to the former owner. "There is evidence of patient satisfaction through the large number of return patients and verbal referrals from former patients," she said.

She said many people avoid needed therapy services because of high co-pays, large deductibles and limited incomes. As a result, DeRue has set up interest-free payment plans in order to help patients be able to plug into therapy. "Most medical facilities require payment at time of service," she said. "This is high risk for my company."

DeRue also sees herself as a mentor to future healthcare professionals. "I take students from local schools and let them follow me for the day and explain the physical therapy profession to see if they are interested," she said. "I have also set up a supervised gym program so people can join to prevent injury, promote weight loss and increase cardiovascular health."

However, many elderly feel uncomfortable in a large gym and have no one to monitor them or help with goals and exercises. "I work with gym members during my lunch free of charge," she said. "This preventive program keeps healthcare costs down."

DeRue attended Utica College of Syracuse University, where she pulled down a bachelor's degree in health science and a master's degree in physical therapy.

For patient Joseph Carfi, DeRue proved invaluable to his health and well being.
He was involved in a minor car accident, and his neighbor referred him to DeRue. "In all my years, I have never met anyone as genuine as Ms. DeRue," he said. "Her caring and giving ways is evident in everything she does."

She is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association.
(By Lou Sorendo)