James.qxp May June 2019 web - Page 24



CEO SPOTLIGHT
SHEPHERD CENTER’S
SARAH
MORRISON
SARAH MORRISON, WHO JOINED
THE ATLANTA-BASED SHEPHERD CENTER
IN 1984 AND ROSE THROUGH THE
RANKS TO BECOME PRESIDENT AND
CEO, EARNED A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN
PHYSICAL THERAPY AT THE UNIVERSITY
OF MIAMI AND RECEIVED MASTER’S
DEGREES IN HEALTHCARE AND BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION FROM GEORGIA
STATE UNIVERSITY. THIS RESPECTED
HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL HAS ALSO
WRITTEN MANY PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS— JAMES IS PLEASED TO SPOTLIGHT HER AND THE CENTER.
24
JAMES
M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 9
JAMES Shepherd Center is one of the top rehabilitation
facilities in the nation. How and why was Shepherd
Center founded? I believe you could call it the “James
Shepherd Story.”
SARAH MORRISON James Shepherd set out on a backpacking
trip around the world in 1973 after graduating from the
University of Georgia. While bodysurng off a beach in
Rio de Janeiro, he was slammed to the ocean oor by a
wave. James, 22 at the time, sustained a serious spinal
cord injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
After spending ve weeks in a Brazilian hospital
struggling to survive, he returned and stayed several
months in an acute care hospital in Atlanta. With the
help of a family friend, the Shepherd family located to a
rehabilitation treatment facility in Colorado that
specialized in the treatment of spinal cord injury. After
six months of intensive rehabilitation, James regained
the ability to walk using a crutch and long-leg brace.
James and his parents— Harold and
Alana Shepherd— were frustrated with the lack of
rehabilitation care options for people with spinal cord
injury in the Southeast. That led the Shepherds to
launch a community campaign to create a specialty
rehabilitation hospital so other parents who were in
their situation would not have to endure traveling more
than a thousand miles to receive specialized care. They
sought support from friends in the community, then
from every individual, foundation or corporation that
might help establish the facility.
Together, the Shepherds and Dr. David Apple
founded Shepherd Center in 1975 as a six-bed unit
operating out of leased space in an Atlanta hospital.
Today, Shepherd Center is a state-of-the-art facility
with 152 beds, including a 10-bed intensive care unit.
We serve individuals with spinal cord injury, brain
injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic
pain, and other neurological disorders. Shepherd
Center is also ranked among the top 10 best
rehabilitation hospitals in the nation by U.S. News and
World Report. Because the Shepherd family used their
injury experience to found the hospital, more than
30,000 patients have been able to rebuild their lives
with hope and independence.
JAMES How did all this amazing growth occur and what
has been the impact?
SM Growth appeared inevitable given the expertise and
quality of services Shepherd Center provided. Every
time Shepherd Center increased its bed capacity, there
was a waiting list shortly thereafter. In 1982, Shepherd
Center moved to its current location at 2020 Peachtree
Road. Shepherd Center became a freestanding 40-bed
facility and then grew to an 80-bed facility in 1984. That
was the year I started at Shepherd Center as a physical
therapist on the spinal cord injury unit.
Ten years later, Shepherd doubled its size with an
addition, the Billi Marcus Building, named for the
fundraiser and wife of Home Depot chairman Bernie
Marcus. The new space allowed Shepherd Center to
expand outpatient services, as well as consider
specializing in the treatment of other conditions. This
led to the development of the Andrew C. Carlos
Multiple Sclerosis Institute at Shepherd Center in 1991
and a 20-bed brain injury unit in 1995. Through the
years, Shepherd Center added treatment services for
people with other neurological injuries and illnesses,
such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, transverse myelitis
and post-polio syndrome.
Research and evidence-based practice has always
played a critical role in Shepherd Center’s success. In 1982,
Shepherd Center was designated a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
Model System by the National Institute on Disability,
Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, which
identied Shepherd Center as a national leader in medical
research and patient care.
JAMES Shepherd Center is treating more wounded military veterans. Tell us about the SHARE (“Shaping Hope
and Recovery Excellence”) Military Initiative.
SM The SHARE Military Initiative began in 2008 thanks
to a very generous donation by Bernie Marcus. It is a
comprehensive rehabilitation program that focuses on
assessment and treatment for active duty or separated
service members who have served in the U.S. military
since September 11, 2001 and who are experiencing
symptoms of mild to moderate brain injury, or
concussions and any co-occurring psychological or
behavioral health concerns, including post-traumatic
stress. We are extremely proud of the SHARE Military
Initiative as it allows us to give back to service members
who have given so much of themselves to provide us
our freedom.
Every brain injury is unique. With that in mind,
SHARE can customize an evaluation and treatment plan
based on a client’s personal needs. SHARE offers
individualized four- to 12-week treatment programs led
by staff members who are dedicated and experienced in
working with veterans. Additionally, the program
includes post-traumatic stress treatment,
individual/family/group therapy, education, cognitive
rehabilitation, vocational/academic evaluation and
community re-entry, life skills training and coaching,
and a lengthy transition to home support program.
JAMES Many donations to Shepherd Center are inspired
by “celebrities” who have been treated at Shepherd
continued on page 26
M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 9
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