Riley inpatient rehab unit earns impressive three-year accreditation



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Patients and families can attest to the value of the rehab program, now considered a center of excellence in the nation.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist,

The news broke on the day before Thanksgiving, and it was cause for celebration on the Riley Hospital for Children inpatient rehab unit and in a home not far from the Indianapolis hospital.

For the first time in its history, the pediatric rehab unit earned three-year accreditation status from an international accrediting body, CARF, putting it in a select group of children’s hospitals around the nation and world.

For Kathleen Osborn, pediatric inpatient rehabilitation program manager, it’s a goal she and her team have been working toward for years. For Justin and Shanda Grounds of rural Morgan County, it is a tribute to the people who helped their son become independent again after a devastating injury left him paralyzed.

Osborn began working as an occupational therapist at IU Health Methodist Hospital in 2007, back when the pediatric rehab unit was housed there. It moved to Riley in 2011.

“They were talking about getting accreditation since before I was there, so it’s been a long conversation,” Osborn said.

When she moved over to Riley as manager three years ago, she was determined that the time for talking was over.

“We’re going to do it,” she said. “And it took every bit of those three years to get where we needed to go.”

Many of the processes and procedures were already in place, but it was a massive undertaking to document everything and be sure everyone was on the same page. That includes not only patient-centered goals but also incorporating caregivers into treatment goals.

Osborn interacts during therapy

None of it would have been possible without buy-in from the entire team and others throughout the system, said Osborn, expressing gratitude for the collaborative spirit.

“It required everyone, and that team is beyond the medical and therapy team,” she said. “It’s social work, child life, creative arts and many others who supported us system-wide.”

The achievement represents the highest level of accreditation that can be given to an organization and shows Riley’s substantial conformance to CARF standards, she added.

In its report, the accrediting body said the Riley rehab unit has demonstrated from every aspect of operations that it is fully committed to the care and well-being of patients, that the leadership team is experienced and actively involved in all aspects of the program, and that the team has established a culture of openness, trust and respect.

Those served in the program “benefit from the commitment, expertise and enthusiasm of engaged physicians, rehabilitation leadership and frontline staff, as well as ancillary supporting departments that promote and provide quality outcome-oriented services,” the report said.

An organization receiving a three-year accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process. It has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit its commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable and of the highest quality.

Anthony Ingram racing her therapists in the Anthony Olympics

That’s what so many patients and families have found over the years. Whether it’s 16-year-old Anthony Ingram challenging his therapists to a race in what they dubbed the Anthony Olympics, or Lucas Grounds getting a tour of Lucas Oil Stadium before his discharge, their stories don’t end with their injuries.

Lucas, who was critically injured in a dirt bike accident last year, spent 61 days in the hospital, much of that time on the rehab unit after surgery.

Lucas with his Riley care team

“The care he received at Riley was amazing,” Shanda Grounds said. “They had goals for him that I believed at first were going to be too lofty … but they eased my fears and talked me through it all.”

She and her husband, Justin, have a special place in their hearts for the physical and occupational therapists who worked with Lucas – namely Lindsay Schaefer and Whitney Kozlowski – who they said consistently went above and beyond to help their son reach an impressive level of independence.

“I met those people during the worst time of my life,” Shanda said. “It’s something a parent never wants to experience, but the entire time we were there, and still almost a year later, he has not had one bad day. it blows my mind.”

A lot of that is due to Lucas’ personality, but it’s also a result of the team’s compassionate yet demanding approach to therapy, she said.

“They are there to help you learn your new normal, to help you realize this is not the end of your life, this is something different and new. They treated us not like a number on the chart. They treated Lucas like a family member.”

Because of the dedication of the rehab team and of Lucas and his family, the high school junior has excelled since being discharged last February.

Read more about Lucas and his life since the accident in a story later this month.

File photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist,