Rallying Stakeholders Around DEI Through Meaningful Community Focus
The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab improves access for vulnerable patient populations.
// By Marcia Simon, APR //
Traumatic injury of the brain or spine can be caused by a sports or work accident, age-related, or other medical issues. Whatever the cause, physical rehabilitation requires a significant amount of follow-up home care after a patient leaves the hospital.
But all too often, social determinants of health and barriers to access impact a patient’s recovery after they return home. To facilitate delivery of necessary services to people in the underserved areas of Chicago, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation Center for Hope and Equity at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab was established through a hospital grant in 2023.
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is a Chicago-based, not-for-profit nationally ranked physical medicine and rehabilitation research hospital with a global reputation for providing exceptional care for patients with severe, complex conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury.
People With Disabilities – An Underserved Population
“We’re a translational research hospital infusing research and science into everything we do,” says Laura Ferrio, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. “Our scientists and researchers are part of our clinical care teams with doctors, nurses, and therapists.”
The hospital has always focused on diversity and underserved individuals. “Society doesn’t often think of people with disabilities as an underserved group. Until the Americans with Disabilities Act passed, people with disabilities did not have any explicitly defined rights. So it’s really part of our nature to be focused on hope and equity for all,” Ferrio explains.