Dickerson, Gunn set high watermark for complex rehab

‘Go big or go home, and always do the right thing,’ says Dickerson of how Simon Margolis impacted his work
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Friday, April 14, 2017

YARMOUTH, Maine – Even as a kid, Gerry Dickerson of National Seating & Mobility was working on wheelchairs.

“I was fairly handy and my uncle had a disability,” he said recently.  “So I started working on chairs to help him get around.”

You could say that early desire to put his handiness to work helping others came full circle recently, when Dickerson was one of two complex rehab providers awarded the Simon Margolis Fellow Award at the International Seating Symposium.

Dickerson’s official entry into the complex rehab industry came when he returned from a cross-country motorcycle trip after college and met the owner of a small surgical supply company. He became an employee, then a partner, and as he nears the end of his career, he says, “the things I do now are aimed at seeing that the profession continues” and gets the recognition and support it deserves.

“I am constantly in the political process pushing for systems change,” he said. 

Political activities notwithstanding, Dickerson says the most rewarding part of his career has been the people he works with in the clinic.

“You fix a seating problem, a mobility problem, a pain problem, and you get to work with great friends all over the world,” he said. “It’s the one thing that keeps you going.”

Not surprisingly, Dickerson’s dedication has not gone unnoticed, even before the award.

“His influence and leadership has made the lives of his clients and the CRT industry better in countless ways,” observed Bill Mixon, National Seating & Mobility’s CEO. “Gerry sets a high watermark for others in our company to continually excel in everything they do every day.”

Simon Margolis played no small role in Dickerson’s unflagging dedication.

“He was a stand-up guy who was all about ethics and commitment,” Dickerson said of the late industry leader.  “Go big or go home, and always do the right thing.”

As for what’s next, Dickerson’s fascination with “handy” technology shows no sign of disappearing. 

“I want to investigate 3-D printing,” he said. “I think it’s going to change the world.”

Michele Gunn puts patients first

How do you get recognized for making an “extraordinary contribution” to your profession?

If you’re Michele Gunn of Browning’s Pharmacy & Health Care, it’s by consistently doing what you say you’re going to do over the course of a long, dedicated career. 

Gunn was one of two recipients of the inaugural Simon Margolis Fellow Award at the recent International Seating Symposium, and she thinks it’s largely because “over 25 years, I don’t believe I’ve ever lost sight of putting the client first.”

It helps, Gunn said, that what complex rehab professionals do changes people’s daily lives so they can have jobs and families.  “There are good days and bad days in this business,” she said, “but the good days are so good they far outweigh any of the bad. You do an intervention, knock it out of the park, and it keeps you coming back for more.”

In the beginning, Gunn was working with 14 college students at a center for independent living when a future colleague came and demonstrated what could be done with custom rehab technology. She joined his company and never looked back.

As for Simon Margolis, the long-time executive director of NRRTS, Gunn remembers him as “our figurehead.”

“He was a calm and good leader who always had the perfect answer,” she said.

Over her career, Gunn has come to play a similar role for her colleagues.

“To us, she is a leader, friend and mentor,” said Thana France, a RESNA seating and mobility specialist with Browning’s. “She has worked tirelessly for the past 15 years to build and grow our rehab team. Her expertise and professionalism have no bounds.”

The role of mentor is going to take up a greater part of Gunn’s time moving forward, as she recently moved from Florida to Port Angeles, Wash., to assume a managerial role with Browning’s.

“I’m hoping for more board time now,” said the longtime member of the NCART board of directors. “It’s so important that the individual vendor’s voice isn’t lost.”