Shepherd Center among top 10 rehab hospitals in U.S.

By Maria Saporta

Spreading the word.

James Shepherd, the inspiration and co-founder of the Shepherd Center, used Facebook to send his friends the message, along with this link, that the Atlanta hospital is among the top 10 rehabilitation centers in the United States.

U.S. News & World Report has just put out a ranking of the “Best Rehabilitaton Hospitals.” Atlanta’s Shepherd Center ranked 9th among a list of more than 150 hospitals in the country.

The rank was based on Shepherd’s reputation by specialists in the medical industry. According to the publication, 9.4 percent of the rehabilitation specialists recommended the hospital for challenging cases.

The inspiration for the Shepherd Center began in 1973 when James Shepherd was on an around-the-world backpacking trip and went body surfing off a beach in Rio de Janeiro. A wave slammed his body against the ocean floor and James was instantly paralyzed from the neck down.

His parents, Alana and Harold Shepherd, brought their son back to the United States where they realized there was a lack of rehabilitation care options in the Southeast. James and his parents founded the Shepherd Center in 1975 with only six beds and a waiting list.

Today Shepherd is a 120-bed rehabilitation facility with a 10-bed instensive care unit and a 30-bed brain injury unit. Annually, it admits more than 850 patients and has nearly 30,000 outpatients visits each year.

The other top rehabilitation hospitals in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report are the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, N.J.; the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle; the TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mn.; the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston; the Craig Hospital in Englewood, Co.; and the Rusk Institute at the New York University Medical Center.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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