Reflections Part 8

By Dana Mandel




In my last related post in March, 2017, I described the first years of my practice as a physical therapist as an employee of a large preschool program, and treating my first private patients.  The number of private patients began to grow, and there were not enough hours available after meeting the responsibilities of my employer to accept new patients.  This was the moment I decided to quit, end my employment and become a private practitioner.  I went to the Cayuga County Clerk’s Office and obtained a DBA (Doing Business As) document and the Mandel Therapy Group was born.


At that time, in the summer 1988, I began meeting with superintendents and special education directors of the local school districts.  As a new therapist and recent transplant to Central New York, school districts were not lining up to sign contracts for my services.  It took the support of one individual, Joyce McManus, Director of Special Programs for the Jordan-Elbridge Central School District, to turn things around.  Joyce was a strong leader and trendsetter throughout her long career in education.  She was willing to give me a chance and assigned the students only from Ramsdell Elementary School to my caseload to “see how things worked out.”  I can only assume she was impressed, because at the end of the school year, I was awarded the contract to provide physical therapy services to the entire school district for the next 3 years.  The Skaneateles Central School District, under the leadership of Kathryn Carlson, Director of Pupil Personnel, soon contacted me on the recommendation from Joyce, and we signed Agreements to service their students as well.  At this point, I also began provided homecare PT services through the Cayuga County Certified Home Health Care Agency.  I greatly enjoyed treating homebound adult patients before and after school hours to add variety to my life and keep my medical skills sharp.


As the demand for physical therapy services in Cayuga County grew, I soon ran out of hours in the day to treat all of the patients that were being referred to the fledgling Mandel Therapy Group.  I also felt a degree of insecurity as the primary provider for my growing family, as my income was entirely dependent on my ability to treat patients.  If I ever became unable to directly treat patients, I would have no income.  I also hated to say “no” when there were children and adults in need of physical therapy services with limited options for treatment.  It was time to hire another physical therapist to meet the growing demand.


I hired the Mandel Therapy Group’s first employee, Patti Webb, PT, in 1990.  Patti practiced physical therapy with the Mandel Therapy Group for 23 years until her retirement in 2013.


More to come next month, including the transition from the Mandel Therapy Group to Lifespan Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech and Language Pathology Services, PLLC.