We define adaptation as the evolutionary process whereby an organism becomes better able to live in its habitat. This issue of the TIRR Memorial Hermann Journal is focused on our continued evolution to meet the needs of our habitat – the global disability community – in the face of a rapidly evolving pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted us to step back and consider how to deepen our missions of clinical care, research, education and advocacy in terms of the virus. Our affiliated physicians, teams and researchers studied the literature, looked at evidence-based practice for our population in new ways, created treatment plans for our inpatients and outpatients, adapted programs rapidly for TIRR Sports and our wellness programs, and trained our teams. One of the beneficiaries of our rapid adaptation is Dr. Grant Lashley, an emergency physician from Lafayette, Louisiana, who survived COVID-19 and came to us for rehabilitation after spending 37 days on a ventilator. During his stay, we were implementing our own pandemic precautions. While we were encouraging him in his recovery, he was encouraging us. As his therapy team shared with us on the day he rejoined his family and headed home from TIRR, Dr. Lashley is just one example of many demonstrating TIRR’s ability to return COVID-19 survivors to the community.
Lex Frieden, profiled in our cover story, has made phenomenal contributions to the disability community by changing the habitat itself so that the community can better embrace people with disabilities. His extraordinary advocacy journey began with work that led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, and continues today through the Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) program, which is helping people with disabilities maintain their independence while they navigate the pandemic.
When I came to TIRR Memorial Hermann in 2001, I fell in love with our pediatric program and knew I wanted to spend my career here. We are so happy to welcome the kids and families back to inpatient rehabilitation.
Having the opportunity to serve as CEO is a real privilege and honor. As an institution and as people, we have been pushed by the pandemic in unfamiliar and uncomfortable ways. Our leaders and teams have done an amazing job of evolving, particularly in a time of fear. Without them, none of this would be possible. We will continue to adapt and rise to the challenge, as we’ve always done. We reach as high as we can and then we reach a little higher.
Rhonda Abbott, PT, FTPTA
Chief Executive Officer
TIRR Memorial Hermann
System Executive for Rehabilitation Services
Memorial Hermann Health System
For the 31st consecutive year, TIRR Memorial Hermann is recognized as the best rehabilitation hospital in Texas and No. 3 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report's "Best Rehabilitation Hospitals" in America.Learn More