Employee Spotlight: Michael Irizarry, PT

Employee Spotlight: Michael Irizarry, PT

It was 1980 when Michael Irizarry graduated from Stony Brook University in Long Island with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. The young man from the Bronx was fresh out of college and heading to Pennsylvania. How did this young physical therapist end up in Scranton?

“While I was in school, I had a student affiliation at the rehab hospital (Allied Services) for 2 months. At the end of my affiliation I was offered a position. I took the job expecting to leave after a 2 year period of gaining experience in each of the four rehab sections (outpatient rehab, inpatient rehab, skilled nursing and home health) and then return to New York.”

Michael served as a physical therapist at Allied Services Rehab Hospital before becoming the Director of Physical Therapy Services at Allied Services’ then satellite outpatient department at the state’s general hospital. That’s where he met his wife, Clara, who was working as a nurse at the hospital. Just like that, a planned 2 year stint in Scranton turned into 40 years.

“After one year I was promoted to director of the PT department at Scranton State General Hospital. Shortly after taking the position there, I met my wife, who was a nurse at the hospital. So my 2 year stint in Scranton, so far, has turned into 40 years!"

Michael served as physical therapy director at Allied Services Skilled Nursing & Rehab Center before joining Allied Services Home Health in 1987. After working in Home Health for 33 years, Michael still loves what he does. There are the obvious challenges, like driving during some of Northeast PA’s harsh winters and helping new patients feel comfortable with a stranger. However, he enjoys working one-on-one with patients in their homes.

“Every patient has different needs and different goals. Because you’re in the patient’s home, you can do exercises that pertain to their needs. You can assess the situation, make recommendations, see potential barriers in the home, and design a program that is specific for the patient allowing them to live independently in their own environment.”

With such a long career in healthcare, Michael has made several connections with patients and has many memories to talk about. There is one in particular he always chooses to share because to him, it came with an incredible life lesson.

“The one patient that had the greatest impact on me was the owner of a trucking company. In all the years he owned the company, he had never taken a day off or even a sick day. As he neared retirement, he knew he would have more than enough money to live lavishly, so he sold his business and was ready to settle into the lap of luxury. About one month after selling his business, he suffered a massive stroke. There were some hard times for him, but after being in Allied Services Rehab Hospital, he was able to regain his ability to enjoy the rest of his retirement. He told me he regretted not enjoying more of his life while he owned the business instead of waiting until he retired.”

“I learned to not take the future for granted. Don’t wait to enjoy life.”

Michael and his wife, Clara, have been married since 1984, and currently reside in Peckville. Together they have three children, all of whom chose careers in healthcare. Their daughter Taryn is a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Another daughter, Marissa, has her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, and their son, Dre, is a resident Psychiatric Physician at Stanford University in California.

Michael was awarded the Charles Luger Memorial Employee Award in 2015. Thank you, Michael, for your service to our patients.

To learn more about Allied Services Home Health call 570.348.2200 or click here.