For the past 35 years, Nicholas Giorgio has been a mainstay at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC), an anchor for both patients and medical professionals. As a hospital aide, he has played a role in countless patient recoveries since starting his career in 1981.
When he first arrived at PPMC 36 years ago, Nicholas started as a security officer. Eventually, when a therapy aide position become available, he applied for the position and began his role in rehabilitation.
“I love sports and have always been interested in how strength training can help in recovery from injury,” says Nicholas about what inspired him to go into healthcare. “The therapy manager at the time, Joe Cardillo, took a chance and hired me. I will always be grateful to him.”
As a hospital aide, Nicholas is often the very first point of contact with a patient starting acute physical rehabilitation. From assisting therapists with patient care to helping the therapy gym run smoothly, Nicholas serves as a source of encouragement during recovery.
“When a patient thinks they can’t do something, I help the therapist during their therapy session to break things down into steps in order to perform the task at hand,” says Nicholas. “My favorite part of working in acute care rehabilitation is seeing the satisfaction on a patient’s face when they’ve had a positive result.”
Being a steady fixture at PPMC over the years, Nicholas also acts as a source of encouragement and knowledge for his colleagues. Megan Link, Site Manager at PPMC, is grateful to have him as part of her team.
“Nick is an endless supply of resources, skill, and knowledge, always knowing who to call and where to get a much-needed piece of equipment (or fashioning that piece of equipment himself!) He is thoughtful and creative, with an ability to sense and address the individual needs of the patients he provides care for,” says Megan. “He always takes care of his therapy team, asking ‘What can I do’ or ‘How can I help,’ often knowing what we need before we can ask. Nick is an anchor of our department.”
Over the past year, Nicholas has expanded his clinical skills to the acute orthopedic population, assisting with implementing concept for a Mobility Technician in acute care.
“The department needed someone with patient mobility experience to provide extra range of motion and mobility sessions,” says Nicholas. “This did show that the patients can have better outcomes, including being discharged or getting to rehab quicker, so I volunteered.”
Throughout his career, Nicholas has seen the transformation of physical rehabilitation at PPMC for more than three decades, and the impact technology has had on patient care.
“The equipment has improved. The products that were only available to athletes are now available to the general public. Products like wraps and braces. The Game Ready cryocompression device for pain and swelling of all extremities; Hydro and Aquatic therapies to Hyperbaric chambers. It’s amazing,” says Nicholas. “I was told a long time ago by a co-worker, Bernice Rucker, that when she was a Certified Nursing Assistant in the 1970s, she would assist the patients with therapy exercises that the orthopedic surgeon would have planned in the medical records chart. I have seen the therapists in this program start with a Bachelor’s degree, then move to a Master’s and then a Doctorate degree.”
Nicholas is one of the veteran employees at Good Shepherd Penn Partners, yet he continues to expand his knowledge to enhance the rehabilitation experience for both his colleagues and patients in his care.
“As employees of Good Shepherd Penn Partners, we continue to collaborate with the entire Penn Medicine network to show the importance of physical, occupational, and speech therapy in positive patient outcomes,” says Nicholas. “All of my colleagues are willing to share their knowledge with anyone, and are so in tune with each other, especially if someone is having a hard time. I have the best of both worlds by working with veteran and newly graduated therapists. There is always an opportunity to learn.”