01 Jan Restoring Medicine
Introducing Dr. Dennis Deruelle, Mendota Health's Chief Medical Officer
“He was an old school doctor in the best way, revered by his patients, adored and loved”.
Dr. Dennis Deruelle’s love for medicine began in the waiting room of his godfather’s clinic. As a young kid, Deruelle saw the impact of a doctor who spent time with his patients, listened, understood their needs, and centered care around them. “My godfather had a black bag and everything; even did house calls”. Inspired by his godfather’s practice, Deruelle has spent his professional career working to restore this connection between patient and provider through innovation and leadership.
Dr. Deruelle received his Medical Degree at Albany Medical College in Albany, New York. He completed his Internal Medicine training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also did a fourth-year Chief Residency, including Infectious diseases training. In addition, Deruelle completed the Fellowship Program for Hospital Leaders at the University of California at San Francisco.
In his first position out of medical school he worked for a large multi-specialty clinic, “when you first walked in, there was a massive sign that said ‘cashier’. The clinic was all about productivity and money. It didn’t sit right with me. There is a moral dissonance of having to go faster than you want and not giving patients the care they need. When that dissonance occurs, it’s extremely hard for providers, it is counter to what they have trained for and the reason they want to practice medicine in the first place. During this time, I remembered my time in the waiting room of my godfather’s clinic, my love of patient care, and I knew I had to make a change”.
Deruelle created a healthcare app, MyDocReplay, designed to capture and share healthcare conversations across care teams and engage patients in the conversation. As an early adopter and innovator in the space of telemedicine, he was confronted with the reality of a system that does not reward innovation. Deruelle says “in healthcare you can’t be outside of the reimbursement system. Unfortunately, reimbursement is what drives what care can be provided and to whom. I want to create something and move the envelope. Mendota Health is doing this. We are giving patients what they want and what they need in a much better way. So, the fact we are now able to do home visits, bring expert care to the patient, it brings it full circle to the care I saw my godfather provide”.
Mendota Health provides advanced wound care wherever the patient is, a concept that is innovative in its retro nature. “I have always been intrigued by startup companies that have a vision; that want to create something that did not exist. That’s at the core of my DNA. I’m a creator. I love ideas, but I’m into taking those ideas and making them happen. I look at Mendota Health and I’m in awe of a company that saw a need, had a unique idea, and didn’t just think about it, they did it. I believe that much of healthcare is moving into the home over the next 10 years; that is just a reality“.
Wound care is more than just medical treatment; it is a holistic endeavor influenced by social determinants that shape individuals’ lives. Recognizing and addressing these determinants can pave the way for improved wound care outcomes. Wound healing is co-creative; it takes the participation of the patient, their buy-in and cooperation, to heal the wound. Deruelle says “I focus my effort bringing the patient onto the team, understanding their needs and centering care around them. I like to enable the individual in that way and create shared decision making. Medicine is intimate; people tell you things. I’ve had an 80-year-old woman tell me something she’s never told anyone since she was four years old. Medicine is very intimate and it’s an honor and privilege”.
the future of healthcare
“I believe the actual hands-on future of health care is going to transition more and more to nurse practitioners” says Deruelle. Dr. Deruelle has over 20 years of experience leading provider groups including having served as the owner of a private hospital medicine practice. “Nurse Practitioners are paramount to healthcare. And my message to them is you’re vital. You’re so important. You’re well trained and you’re capable”. In wound care, nurse practitioners outperform doctors when healing wounds. “Nurse practitioners come out of nursing, a training which is more patient centered. Nurses are trained differently than doctors, so they do have this substrate, this foundational training and kind of patient first empathy”.
Deruelle sees his job as a collaborator with Mendota Health’s nurse practitioner team and working to bridge any knowledge gaps that exist. “It’s not the size of the circle of your knowledge that’s most important right now, it is knowing its edge, it’s knowing the limit, and when you’re outside of it”.
there cannot be a fear of seeking help
One of the leadership challenges in mobile healthcare is providing support to a team that is on the road across multiple states. “It’s all about trust. I lead with a thoughtful heart. Meaning, I definitely lead with my heart, but it’s thoughtful first. That means I think about things a lot; I’m deliberative and seek input. There cannot be a fear of seeking help. Then I make quick decisions. When I can be a servant leader, I am. I want to do exactly what my team is doing; I want to be in their shoes“.
As Mendota Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deruelle will lead a nationwide group of nurse practitioners bringing advanced wound care to where the patient is. We welcome Dr. Deruelle as he continues his lifelong professional work of restoring the connection between patient and provider. “I love patients and I love taking care of them, I mean that’s at the heart of it“.