While working in the guidance office as a high school student in 1969, Patty Dametz took a phone call from a podiatry practice in Long Branch that was looking for help with administrative work after school.
This would begin an unexpected yet eternally fulfilling career in healthcare that spanned more than 50 years.
Patty worked at the podiatry practice for 12 years until her son was born. At the time, she wasn’t planning to go back to work when she heard from Dr. Dennis Nitto, a family friend and the original owner of what is now the Natural Healthcare Center facility.
Dr. Nitto needed someone to work a couple days a week in his chiropractic office. Two days became three, three days became four, and within a year, Patty was working full-time managing billing, office operations, and hiring.
“At the time, the facility was one floor with three treatment rooms,” Patty said. “Dennis actually lived in the area of the building behind the offices and treatment rooms. I loved working for Dennis. He was a kind man and very content to focus on seeing patients while I handled office work.”
A Sign of Things to Come
Dr. Nitto eventually added second and third floors to his chiropractic office. The construction was even featured by the Asbury Park Press because a rather small office was being converted into such a large structure.
Not long after the expansion, Patty was sitting at her desk when Dr. James Proodian walked into the building.
“Dennis introduced me to James and said he had a few questions about the practice, the staff, and a few other things,” Patty said. “James came over and asked for a bunch of different documents and reports, and I was like, ‘Who the heck is this guy?’ At the time, Dennis had never said anything about selling the practice.”
Within weeks, Dr. Nitto announced that he was moving to Florida and Dr. Proodian would be purchasing the practice. The name was soon changed to Natural Healthcare Center.
A New Energy and a New Vision
“Working with James was a complete 180 from Dennis,” Patty said. “Dennis was quiet and unassuming. James was full of energy and had a clear vision, with one-, five-, 10-, and 20-year plans to expand the practice to include more services and clinicians.”
Patty was immediately struck by Dr. Proodian’s drive to improve everything about Natural Healthcare Center, from back-office operations, to the quality of patient care, to the overall patient experience from the moment someone walks through the door.
“James is very passionate about what he loves – his family, number one, and his patients and practice, number two,” Patty said. “He built a team of people who share that passion. I’ve always found him to be very motivating and inspiring.”
Patty appreciated how Natural Healthcare Center helps people from all walks of life dealing with all kinds of conditions. Everyone is treated with the utmost respect. Patty points out that most people who visit Natural Healthcare Center are experiencing some kind of pain. Many have been dealing with chronic pain for a long time. As a result, they might be a little grumpy or downright miserable. Pain affects the psyche and can cause people to be abrupt and impatient.
The transformation in these patients was probably the most rewarding part of working at Natural Healthcare Center.
“When you compare a patient’s demeanor and behavior on day 1 versus day 30, it’s like night and day,” Patty said. “You see those layers of misery start to peel off. They start to have hope that they won’t have to live life in pain anymore. It always made me feel so good to see people’s lives changing before my eyes.”
Patty recently retired after a career of more than five decades. As a member of the original Natural Healthcare Center team, she constantly looks back on her experiences, and her relationship with Dr. Proodian, with fondness.
“Natural Healthcare Center is such a special place,” Patty said. “People who work there have such close relationships with patients. And James has always been a trusted friend who I consider part of my family. He expects a lot but he gives a lot. He’s such a generous person. He made me want to be the best version of me I could possibly be. James has always been there for me and I’ll always be there for him, even now that I’m retired.”