An Appointment With: Brian Krebs, AVP Rehab Service Line & STARS
Since starting his career in 1997, Brian Krebs, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT, Cert. MDT, has grown his career through Northwell Health’s rehabilitation services. Beginning with the Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Services (STARS) team as a physical therapist, Brian has developed his PT and business skills alike, holding positions there such as supervisor, manager, director, and senior director. Today as the AVP of the Rehab Service Line and STARS, Brian exemplifies the growth possible within Northwell.
We sat down with Brian to discuss the opportunities available at STARS.
How has STARS grown over the past year?
Though the past year has been tough for all healthcare professionals, the team members at STARS have stepped up to develop new ways to deliver exceptional and safe care to our patients. We have started exploring new territories like telehealth to deliver care virtually as well as taken measures to reconfigure physical space in the offices and clinical schedules to allow for social distancing. During the COVID pandemic, many of our team members found themselves developing new skills, with many volunteering to participate in Northwell’s Reassignment Reserves to be temporarily reassigned to COVID testing centers or being trained to work as safety monitors.
Additionally, the rehabilitation specialties we offer have continued to grow. Along with our focus on orthopedic and musculoskeletal rehabilitation therapy, our team members have worked hard to develop specialty services such as pelvic floor, pediatrics, neurological and wheelchair clinics, hand therapy, lymphedema/oncology, and vestibular programs to name just a few.
How has the work of our rehabilitation team members been vital to our organization and communities during the COVID pandemic?
Though we offer physical therapy in many specialties, traditionally most of our clinical team members have been working with musculoskeletal cases. With the COVID pandemic creating an increased need for additional services, the team at STARS has further expanded their skills to align with the principles of pulmonary therapy to assist in the treatment of recovering patients. One physical therapist in particular, Michael Kamme, had the idea for the program and worked closely with the STARS leadership and the Northwell Pulmonary physicians to develop the INSPIRE Program. We’re proud to say we now have physical therapists trained to deliver pulmonary rehab at every location and have seen 56 patients to date.
What are some of the careers available within STARS?
Between our rehab sites and within the hospital outpatient departments, we have a variety of careers available for anyone interested in joining the STARS team. On the clinical side, we have opportunities for physical and occupational therapists and assistants, speech therapists, neuropsychologists and rehab aides. For those with a non-clinical background, we have positions available from working at the front desk or in operations, to joining our support services or revenue cycle teams.
Opportunities aren’t just limited to our Rehab Centers and hospitals however. STARS also hires athletic trainers who work directly in practices physician extenders or in schools across Long Island. STARS also has physical therapists at Hofstra University working in their training room with their athletes. We also have the exciting opportunity to work with some professional sports team, such as the New York Islanders and the New York Lizards. Aside from just treating patients, many of our therapists also provide community and professional lectures as well as are adjunct or assistant faculty at local institutions including the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.
What makes working at STARS unique?
The culture in the STARS workplace is one where we value every member. Along with making STARS a fun place to work, we’re committed to developing the talent of the members of our STARS family throughout every step of their career. We encourage our team members to let us know if there are new skills they’d like to develop, including additional certifications or shadowing other departments if they would like to make a transition to the non-clinical side. We also love hearing ideas from our team members and strive to create an environment where everyone feels their voice can be heard and their ideas and input make a difference to influence changes in the organization.
Another thing that makes us unique is that our leadership team all continues to be treating clinicians. I myself still see patients generally two mornings a week, and I feel that it’s an important way to ensure that team members at all levels do not lose touch with the day to day workflows and changes related to regulatory/compliance, etc. By continuing to treat patients, we are better aware and equipped to responds to any challenges that our team may be facing and can then move together to come to the best solution for all.
Interested in a rehabilitation services career? Get moving and apply today!
The compassionate care of Northwell’s home care providers
Our home care professionals at Northwell Health provide a comfortable and healing space for our patients and their families. We’re proud to recognize our amazing team of nurses, therapists, aides, social workers and more, who are making a difference.
Meet some of our team members in home care and learn their favorite thing about their career below:
Danielle Walker, Home Care Registered Nurse, Staten Island
As a registered nurse, Danielle provides a full range of care to her patients from educating them on their disease, providing treatment to their wounds and offering emotional support. “I love being able to provide a sense of security and calmness to a patient and their families,” says Danielle. “We provide an “extra set of eyes” and ears for the doctors so that we can continue to provide the care that they need as they return to their home.”
Steven Boym, Registered Nurse and Coordinator of Care, Northwell Health at Home
Working as a registered nurse and coordinator of care, Steven performs initial admission visits to patients for the home care program. In this role he works with physicians and colleagues in the home care interdisciplinary team, such as physical and occupation therapists and social workers to plan the patient’s course of care. “Helping patients to recover from sickness brings the most satisfaction to my work,” Steve says. “I like to assist physicians in treating patients with chronic and complex wounds. Northwell Health has helped me in becoming a certified wound care specialist.”
Thobile Sibanda, Home Care Physical Therapist, Staten Island
As a physical therapist, Thobile works as a movement expert to improve patients’ quality of life through exercises and treatment plans. These exercises are determined by first evaluating each patient and their living environment, then developing a treatment plan in collaboration with her fellow team members who often include doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and home health aides. “I have been lucky to work with patients from a diverse spectrum of humankind, who live in diverse communities that represent them,” Thobile says. “For me, this opportunity does not only pique my desire to provide excellent care, but I seek to provide an impactful experience that would be remembered long after the patient is discharged.”
Thomas Onorato, Home Care Physical Therapist, New Hyde Park
As a physical therapist, Thomas plays a vital role in providing evaluations of function, teaching exercises and skills to better improve movement and activity performance for his patients. “Providing physical therapy in the home is fantastic because of the one-on-one time we spend with patients,” says Thomas. “We see directly the environment with which patients must interact and can make meaningful recommendations to facilitate successful completion of their daily tasks. We work with patients to develop flexibility, strength, balance, endurance and coordination and suggest movement strategies and environmental adaptations to help them achieve what is most important to them.”
Yvonne Foley, Home Care Registered Nurse, Westbury
Working as a registered nurse, Yvonne facilitates a safe transition from the hospital and rehab to the community. She ensures the patient is safe in the home, taking medications correctly, and educates them on their disease and symptoms. “My goal is for all my patients to achieve their maximum independence in a timely fashion,” says Yvonne. “My favorite part of home care is the variety. No two days are ever the same and I have time to develop a relationship with patients and their families. It is extremely satisfying to discharge a patient from home care, and they are able to resume their previous lifestyle.”
Join our team of compassionate home care professionals. Apply today!
Strengthening our communities and the lives of our patients with physical therapy
As October marks Physical Therapy Month, we at Northwell Health are honored to celebrate the healthcare professionals who are committed to helping patients improve movement, increase mobility, and recover from injury to live their lives to their fullest potential.
Our rehabilitation teams are staffed with licensed physical therapists who provide patients with the education, support, and motivation they need to enhance and restore functional ability. Among them is Soledad Tomasino, an experienced senior physical therapist (PT).
Having started her career in orthopedic physical therapy with Northwell a decade ago, Soledad was determined to advance her skills in ways that would lead to a rewarding and decorated career. Four years ago, she made the shift to Pelvic Health and most recently, she received her Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner Certification (PRPC) from Herman and Wallace, an institution that provides continued education for medical professionals seeking to improve their practice of pelvic treatment and rehabilitation.
For Soledad, seeking opportunities for growth outside of Northwell would help enhance her experience within. And with the unrelenting support of our organization, her professional growth was inevitable. At Northwell’s Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Services (STARS) in Manhasset, Soledad’s found a positive environment that fosters togetherness amongst our employees and empowers them to be at their best. It creates an atmosphere where their personal goals and patient goals can be realized. Soledad notes, “STARS is a family, especially amongst the pelvic floor team. We’ve supported each other through many stages of life including getting married and having our own babies.”
Soledad takes on a number of responsibilities as senior PT, from mentoring newly hired Pelvic Floor therapists to participating in the development of the Pelvic Floor manual. But of the many roles she has, the one she appreciates the most is the opportunity she has to make an impact in the lives of her patients. “What I like the most about my career is to help my patients achieve their personal goals,” says Soledad. “It’s rewarding when patients tell me their therapy helped them regain their quality of life.”
Northwell thanks Soledad and all of our committed physical therapists who work tirelessly to make a difference. If you’re interested in working for an organization that specializes in rehabilitation with recovery as a top priority, get moving and apply today.
Top 5 Reasons to make the move to the Northwell Health’s Rehabilitation Team
You’ve chosen to pursue a career in one of the rehabilitation disciplines because you’re passionate about restoring the quality of life to those recovering from illness and injury. If you’re looking for the best place to grow your rehabilitation career, there are many reasons to join the rehabilitation team at Northwell Health. Here are the top five!
#1 – Made for Flexibility
With positions that cover the full continuum of rehabilitation care and opportunities throughout Long Island, the boroughs of New York and Westchester County, you’ll find a career that’s right for you. Northwell Health seeks professionals to join our team as physical and occupational therapists, speech-language therapists, rehabilitation aides, physical therapy assistants, clinical rehabilitation supervisors & directors, activities specialists and more in a variety of settings, including:
Hospital acute care
#2 – Always reaching higher
If you’re looking to take your rehabilitation career further, Northwell Health has what you’re looking for. Our rehabilitation services cover every specialty imaginable, including:
Inpatient/outpatient brain injury
Spinal cord injury
Women’s Health/Pelvic Floor
And much more!
In addition, Northwell Health features CARF-accredited rehabilitation facilities that ensure the highest standards of care.
#3 – Innovation in motion
We are always looking for smarter and better ways to restore quality of life. For example, Glen Cove Hospital is the only facility in New York and one of only seven in the country to offer the G-EO System ™. This Robotic Assisted Gait Trainer is the world’s most advanced robotic-assisted device for restoring ambulation. We also utilize:
Upper and lower extremity robots for stroke patients
Functional electric stimulation bikes for spinal cord injuries
Motion capture technology to assess athletic performance
And much more
#4 – Stretching your professional possibilities
Northwell Health offers a range of educational and professional development programs, including continuing clinical education, conference networking, physician rounding, clinical research opportunities and advanced training at the Center for Learning and Innovation. Northwell also provides individual mentoring in order to identify and develop outstanding clinicians.
#5 – Stronger together
Talk about your winning teams! Our teams systems-wide have been recognized as a leader in employee engagement with scores ranking over the 97th percentile nationally for four years in a row. With strong interdisciplinary collaboration, the rehabilitation professionals at Northwell Health are always better together.
Ready to take the next step? Learn more about job opportunities within our rehabilitation department here.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Join our talent community and learn about future rehabilitation career opportunities here.
Meet our Vice President of our Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Service Lines, Nina DePaola
Why did you become a physical therapist?
I knew from personal experiences at a young age that I wanted to go into healthcare related to improving ones quality of life. In order to pursue this I spent time volunteering in high school and I observed physical therapy which inspired me. My goal at the time was to help those with cancer and improve their day to day function and strength during treatment and recovery. Through my physical therapy education and training I became interested in working with a variety of those in need-including those with sports, cardiac, neurological, amputees, and orthopaedic conditions. Most importantly a physical therapist has the ability to motivate and teach an individual to become more independent and enjoy each day.
How long have you worked for Northwell health?
I will be celebrating my 30 year anniversary in 2017.
Can you talk about your career profession within the health system?
I began as a staff physical therapist at NSUH Manhasset. I then pursued my masters in administration, with the intent to go into a physical therapy private practice. About 5 years later I was offered an opportunity to start a small outpatient orthopaedic physical therapy program for the hospital. This small program has grown over the years to many sites and is called STARS (Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Services). The STARS team continues to this day and celebrates exceptional service, engagement and care for many types of patients in need of physical and occupational therapy. I was asked approximately 15 years ago to oversee the Rehabilitation Service Line for our growing health system, and shortly after that I was asked to oversee the Orthopaedic Physician Service Line. Now our two service line teams have grown many programs, centers, facilities and offices in many markets throughout the region.
What do you like most of the administrative role of rehabilitation?
Once I became a physical therapist I started developing programs and I really enjoyed initiatives that resulted in impacting many more than just the 10 patients a day that I was treating. It is also very rewarding to help those with a passion for what they love to do create better patient care. That motivated me to grow and I was asked to do this more formally – thus starting my career ladder into administration. My most proud achievement to date has been to celebrate the successes of others and the accomplishments of many individuals who have helped create better ways to offer care to those in need. On the business end a particular goal is to volume build. Areas of our teams include marketing, community outreach, meeting with societies, care organizations and advocacy groups in order to meet their needs, building new service communities and promoting a personal touch to everyone and everything we encounter in corporate healthcare. In corporate healthcare, it has been helpful to be a voice as a physical therapist- to represent the profession and yet align strategically with the health systems mission.
What kind of experience and settings are available to therapists within Northwell Health?
Within Northwell there is just about every variety of therapy and rehabilitation. We have hospital based therapy, skilled nursing- short and long term care therapy, acute inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient therapy and homecare. We treat all ages from pediatrics to geriatrics and have just about every specialty program from sports and spine care to joint replacements, neuro rehab, brain injury and lymphedema care. Part time and full time positions which offer flexible hours are available in many of our settings that help promote a work- life balance.
Why is Northwell Health special?
Northwell health is the largest employer for physical therapists in our region. Many employment options are available related to location and specialty. The overall culture of Northwell is one of teamwork, caring, communication, respect and a great family feel. Employees within Northwell Health truly care about each other and enable change for improvement and what best meets the needs of the patients. As a physical therapist we tend to have the same values of teamwork, communication and motivating others so it marries nicely with the culture of Northwell health.
What opportunities are available for therapists at Northwell Health?
A physical therapist within Northwell Health has many opportunities for additional clinical education, research, program development or leadership growth through the offering of a management track. The Center for Learning and Innovation that has many courses to help develop leadership skills and an understanding of healthcare. There is tuition support available for those who go on to advanced education. There are many cultural activities that help build teamwork with physical therapists and other professions such as nurses and physicians- this makes Northwell Health unique.
Can you speak to the relationship between our Physicians and our Physical Therapists throughout the health system?
We have thousands of physicians who work with our physical therapists in every setting. A physical therapist typically receives the referral to offer care but our communication and partnership to give the patient exactly what they need is very important. Our physicians include orthopedists, neurologists, surgeons, internal medicine and oncologists. There is a very good relationship and mutual respect between physical therapists and physicians concerning the development of programs, education of the community, prevention and treatment of disability in patients.
What would you like to say to our Physical Therapists employees during PT month?
PT month is a time to celebrate for all we that we are able to do for patients and for each other. Northwell Health continues to grow and our expanding workforce of therapists is very strong, well-qualified, well respected and outstanding in their field. This is a time to celebrate the great services that we offer and the continued growth of our programs. A huge message of appreciation is sent to each and every therapist who is proud to be part of the Northwell Health Rehabilitation family. This is a month to celebrate who we are and what we do for so many. Our teamwork and our individual offering of quality care helps thousands and thousands of patients each year and we should congratulate each other offering such quality care in such a rewarding field and in such a great organization which is Northwell Health.
Want to join our team of Physical Therapists? Explore our unlimited rehabilitation career opportunities.
The Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Services (S.T.A.R.S.) team is always ready to take on a challenge. As the team and facility locations continue to grow, there are an endless amount of diverse cases and support available for every employee to accomplish their education and career goals. We had the privilege to speak with Brian Krebs, Senior Director of STARS Network, about his journey throughout Northwell Health and the top 3 things happening right now at STARS.
How long have you worked for Northwell Health?
I began my career with Northwell Health’s STARS in 1997. At that time it was called North Shore-LIJ’s STARS.
Can you talk about your career progression within the health system?
My opportunity to work at Northwell Health’s STARS presented while I was in physical therapy school on my last clinical rotation at STARS East Meadow. A full time staff therapist position was becoming available and my clinical instructor thought I would be a good fit and recommended me for the position. I was attracted to STARS because of their focus on patient care and providing a collaborative team environment. Over the next 19 years I was afforded the opportunity to progress my career from a staff level therapist, to a site supervisor, to a rehabilitation manager to where I am today as a Senior Director. Along the way I was challenged by my mangers to develop both my clinical and administrative skill set. As a site supervisor I was asked to develop various clinical programs related to sports therapy. As a manager I became more involved in the development of staff, making operational decisions and providing strategic input on how best to grow our service. I also have been able to continue my educational aspirations by achieving 3 clinical certifications including a specialty in spine care, manual therapy (Certified in the McKenzie Method and Maitland approach) and becoming an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist. Additionally, I was encouraged to pursue and received a transitional clinical doctorate degree. I know of no other organization that would have allowed me to grow and develop in the manner I have.
Please list the top 3 things happening at S.T.A.R.S. right now.
1. For many years STARS primarily treated those with orthopedic injuries or conditions. However, over the past 2 years with the addition of new locations we have been able to diversify our client base by partnering with other Northwell Health Service Lines to develop many new specialty programs. These include a Lymphedema/Oncology program, a Pelvic Floor/Women’s Health program, a Pediatrics program and our STRIVE for Wellness Program which provides those with a spinal cord injury or other neurologic condition the ability to exercise independently in a safe wheelchair accessible gym. These are in addition to our already existing STARS specialty programs which include Vestibular Rehabilitation, Hand Therapy and Neurological Rehab.
Blast from the past
Heart and Sole 5K
Breast Cancer Awareness
2. We have also seen tremendous growth in the area of sports rehabilitation. For the past 2 years, STARS has been the official provider for the Hofstra University Athletic Department. We work as part of a multidisciplinary team to ensure Hofstra’s student athlete’s get the very best care and get back on the field as quickly as possible. We have also added Certified Athletic Trainers (ATCs) to our clinical compliment and have been awarded contracts with North Shore and Glen Cove High Schools. This past year our trainer at North Shore High School worked with the school’s Athletic Director to achieve the nationally recognized Safe Schools Award. Additionally, our sports therapy staff has worked closely with Orthopaedics to develop our organization’s post-operative protocols, an ACL tear prevention program, a sports concussion program, and a performing artist/dance medicine program.
3. Finally there is our site expansion, with STARS locations in Nassau County, Western Suffolk County, Queens, and Westchester. The addition of new STARS locations allows STARS to serve a greater number of communities and physicians. Our growth has also allowed us to develop programming that meets the needs of undeserved populations and aligns with the mission of our organization. In 2015, STARS opened offices in Franklin Square and Huntington. In 2016, STARS integrated with the outpatient rehabilitation department at Northern Westchester Hospital, making us 10 locations strong.
Please finish this sentence: Without our Physical Therapists, we wouldn’t be able to…
Provide the extraordinary care we do for our patients. Their passion for the profession and drive to help every patient maximize their outcome is humbling. Without their daily efforts we could not have grown into one of the largest multi-specialty therapy providers in the region. This commitment to our patients is evidenced by our consistently high Press Ganey patient satisfaction survey results, and the fact that STARS has achieved the highest Employee Engagement scores for the past three survey cycles. However, it is not just our Physical Therapist that we owe a debt of thanks to. We could not provide the care we do without the work performed by our Physical Therapist Assistants and Occupational Therapists who demonstrate the same values and passion for excellence as that of our Physical Therapists.
What would you like to say to your PT employees during recognition month?
I’d like to commend them, as well as all of our staff, for the important work they do each and every day. I am awed by the letters and emails that we receive weekly from our patients, recognizing the skill and dedication of our staff. It is this dedication to each other, our patients and our mission that has allowed STARS to develop and maintain a culture of care. I can’t thank them enough!
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