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In Conversation: ARN and TIRR Memorial Hermann discuss TIRR as a National Rehabilitation Innovation Center, signed into law by President Joe Biden

On January 5, 2023, Congress passed the Dr. Joanne Smith Memorial Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act of 2022, recognizing a leading class of pioneering rehabilitation research facilities across the country, including TIRR Memorial Hermann, which set the standard for ongoing study and patient care.

The Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) would like to congratulate members and the Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurses (CRRN) of TIRR Memorial Hermann on this monumental law. ARN Board of Directors President, Maria Radwanski, MSN RN CRRN CMGT-BC FARN, Manager, Care Transitions, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Academic Practice Division, had an opportunity to (virtually) sit with TIRR's Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Nicole Harrison, MBA BSN RN NEA-BC, to discuss what this legislative act means to their organization.

In addition to the recorded conversation, found below, Radwanski was able to pose questions about the importance of this act to Rhonda Abbott, PT FACHE, Senior Vice President and CEO of TIRR Memorial Hermann, who was unable to make the call. "On a professional level, the Innovation Act speaks to a level of differentiation amongst rehabilitation centers and identifies the unique contributions that TIRR provides in defining standards of care in the industry," said Abbott. "It combines the seeking of evidence with clinical integration with teaching and complex care – all things that cannot be replicated easily in most inpatient rehab environments."

ARN Board President Radwanski and TIRR Memorial Hermann Vice President + Chief Nursing Officer Harrison in Conversation 

Abbott continued to discuss the importance of culture within the organization. "Being a learning organization is the best way I can describe our pursuit of excellence. It occurs every day, with every team member asking how to make the impossible possible for a patient, a teammate, a person with a disability."

"Our goal is to make the transition from bench to bedside rapid and accessible and to always have hope in what we can impact."

- Rhonda Abbott, CEO, TIRR Memorial Hospital

When asked to describe excellence in a rehabilitation practice, Abbott goes on to define excellence as being outstanding. "Beyond excellence is the yearning and searching for what we don't yet know or have yet to uncover; the diligent and constant work effort of process improvement and relentless problem solving that 'what if' questions yield."

Radwanski later inquired about an example of innovative nursing initiatives or research that TIRR is developing to share with ARN's rehabilitation nursing community. Abbott went on to promote research within their TIRR Journal, which includes "advances in limb loss care with osseointegration, the work of our physician researchers on vagus nerve stimulation meets clinical care practice opportunities, the impact to the field of brain injury, and the embracing of the Schwartz Center's Healing Healthcare Initiative is described as we shape the future of inclusion, compassion and caring culture at TIRR."

"Each of these impacts nursing care in unique ways – through nursing care delivery and education within our medical practice specialty clinic, in our inpatient rehabilitation hospital in the Texas Medical Center and across our inpatient rehab units within the Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network," said Abbott.

Congratulations, again, to all at TIRR Memorial Hermann! 

Continue the Conversation 

To sit down with President of ARN, Maria, please look for more information about our upcoming March 14, 2023 event, "Coffee with the President" at 12 PM CST.

For more information and history on TIRR Memorial Hermann, please visit their website.

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