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Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - 3:45pm


Diana Bruzzone-Prattella ’09, DPT ’13, is a doctor of physical therapy at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, which is part of the Montefiore Health System. She currently works in the inpatient orthopedic and amputee unit where she supports patients after orthopedic procedures such as hip replacement surgery and after amputations. In March, Burke added 53 beds in an effort to take in more COVID-19 patients, and physical therapists like Bruzzone-Prattella began treating these patients as well.

Most hospitalized COVID-19 patients need physical therapy. “You wouldn’t think that they need therapy, but some were on ventilators for weeks, and they’re very deconditioned, so they need help to even get out of bed,” she explained. “I push them to do exercises to improve their functional mobility so they can go home safely. I’m constantly monitoring their vital signs — including oxygen level, heart rate and blood pressure — to make sure they are tolerating our sessions well.”

Over time, the staff has adjusted to the new policies and precautions: “It was very hard initially because you have to be completely covered in gear — mask, gown, glove, face shield, cap. You’re sweating. And you’re in each patient’s room for an hour at a time. At first, everybody at work was so scared. What if I take the virus home and my family gets sick? Now, we’ve all calmed down. We’re taking all the necessary precautions, like using proper PPE. And once you’re there with the patients, you feel so bad for them that you don’t even think of yourself. They really need you.”

Bruzzone-Prattella’s deep sense of purpose is heavily informed by her experience at Mercy. She came to Mercy as an international student from Ecuador on a full scholarship. She played volleyball while earning her bachelor’s degree in health science and graduated cum laude. Then, she pursued her doctorate in physical therapy at Mercy while working as an assistant volleyball coach. “When I was at Mercy and far away from my home in Ecuador, the way that everyone — professors, coaches, deans — treated me, they gave me the sense of a family,” she explained.

“They helped me in times when I struggled and offered me everything I needed to feel safe. I could not be more grateful. Now, I want to give back. And I’m so lucky that I’m in a field where I can do that and feel so good about the work I do every day.”

She also credits her faith with helping her remember what matters in these challenging times: “I am a strong Catholic. We believe in helping others who are struggling and in times of need. I’m trying to always stay positive and thinking that this shall pass. Helping each other is our path for this to end.”

Bruzzone-Prattella's husband, Mercy College Director of Information Technology Todd Prattella, is proud of his wife's incredible strength and compassion during this challenging time. 


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