Profiles in Leadership
Dicus Award Winner Francis Gugliemo
By Laurence N. Benz, PT, DPT, OCS
“Never ever ever compromise ethics or professionalism and always remember the patient comes first.”
In 1968, Francis Gugliemo attended his first Private Practice Section meeting (then called the Self Employed Section) in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the Monteleone Hotel that week, Francis met and befriended Al Amato and Ben Johnson (also Dicus award winners). His relationships with Ben and Al continue strongly to this day, and their strategic collaborations became an integral part of the success of Francis’s private practice, Baton Rouge Physical Therapy (BRPT).
Francis joined the first private practice in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1967. Baton Rouge Physical Therapy (BRPT) has been thriving for 51 years, and Francis has played an integral role. In 1996, he assumed the office of president and chief executive officer after acting as the managing partner for several years. In 2001, Francis engineered a key joint venture with Our Lady of the Lake Hospital.
Innovation and “firsts” are part of the history of BRPT. The practice was the first in Louisiana to offer pelvic intermittent traction, Cybex, electromyography and nerve conduction studies, industrial back schools, work hardening and functional capacity evaluations, and pioneered the auto-range passive ROM device that was the forerunner to continuous passive motion.
BRPT was also the first practice in Louisiana to cover sports medicine events for local high schools, negotiate and execute the first health management organization contract, and co-founded the first physical therapy managed care organization with PTPN. Today, they have more doctors of physical therapy and board-certified specialists than any organization in Louisiana. It was one of the first clinics in United States to participate in FOTO and its outcomes have always been excellent.
Francis’s legendary career was highlighted in 1988 as the winner of the Dicus Award. He credits PPS with saving private practice for the inclusion of outpatient private practice physical therapy in the Medicare program. PPS was the source of camaraderie and professional exchange among members that culminated in a long-term study group of non competing physical therapy practices that continues to this day.
Francis officially retired in 2004, but has remained close to the Baton Rouge community, partners, physical therapy friends, and national colleagues. He thoroughly enjoys retirement, particularly the time he spends with family and friends. He enjoys cooking and entertaining, and is a culinary aficionado. He also enjoys birdwatching and playing with his model railroad. As Francis reflects on his business and physical therapy career, he encourages his colleagues to “never ever ever compromise their ethics or professionalism and to always remember the patient comes first.” A lifelong learner, he reminds the members of PPS to “never stop learning and to always explore new and evolving trends, interventions, and innovations.”
Laurence N. Benz, PT, DPT, OCS, MBA, MAPP, is a member of the Awards Committee and chief executive officer at Texas Physical Therapy Specialists (TexPTS) in Texas. Larry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.