The Hospital Association of Rhode Island is making a commitment to the hard work and dedication of healthcare workers in the state by highlighting their work, especially beyond the four walls of the traditional hospital setting. This is the second story in our new series, #WeAreHealthCare, featuring the unique and exemplary work of our state’s only free standing acute inpatient rehabilitation facility: The Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island.

Written by Nicole Muri Searles — January 04, 2024

RHRI_Tracey Jackson helping a patientTracey Jackson’s life work is getting people up and moving, literally. Jackson is currently the Director of Therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island (RHRI), having worked her way up the ranks at this facility over more than two decades. 

Jackson says seeing patients walk out of the hospital after a brief stay, many of whom arrive unable to get out of bed, is what motivates her and the entire staff here at RHRI. 

When I walked the halls of RHRI with Jackson a few weeks ago, it was apparent by the smiles, waves, greetings, pleasantries and small talk among the therapists, office staff, senior executives, and patients that this is an atmosphere of kindness, compassion, dedication, teamwork, and results. 

RHRI_BWhen the doors of RHRI opened in 1994, it was intended as a state-of-the-art inpatient physical rehabilitation hospital focused on the treatment and recovery of individuals with debilitating injuries. Today the mission remains the same. RHRI’s rehabilitation programs address the unique needs of patients recovering from stroke, brain injury, neurological conditions, trauma, spinal cord injury, amputation, and orthopedic injuries and procedures. 

Jackson says for each patient her team creates a rigorous program that includes an average of 3 hours per day of rehabilitation up to five days a week, individualized to that patient’s injury/illness and needs. The hospital has an interdisciplinary therapy gym, and an apartment style suite where therapy is related to activities of daily living including cooking, doing laundry, and bathing.

RHRI_CThey recently purchased virtual reality (VR) equipment to help simulate different environments for practical practice. The VR goggles can be used for seated or standing exercises, strengthening work, even pain management. Jackson says there are patients who really love it as an alternative to traditional therapy/exercises. 

The RHRI utilizes a myriad of equipment, therapy types, and approaches to achieve their ultimate goal: helping patients achieve their best recovery possible and get them home quickly, able to care for themselves and live independently. 

Jackson recalls one patient who recently came into the hospital unable to get out of bed. In fact, the patient required a Hoyer lift to get from his bed to a wheelchair. After 24 days at RHRI, he was walking 50 feet on his own and climbing stairs with a one-person assist. Jackson says these are typical results for the team at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island. 

Jackson isn’t the only member of this rehabilitation team with years of experience in this hospital. Jackson, who started here in 2000, has four occupational therapists on her team who also have more than 20 years of experience at RHRI. Two of her physical therapists have been here for more than two decades as well, one more than 7 years, and they welcomed a new addition to the PT team a year ago. 

What sets RHRI apart, according to Jackson, is that longevity of experience. This professional believes that tenured teamwork truly distinguishes RHRI’s service and is the cornerstone of the hospital’s consistently high patient ratings and outcomes. Jackson says years of working together and knowing how to apply the best of their expert skills for the greatest benefit of each patient, makes a difference. 

Jackson is thankful for the group of professionals she works with, and recounts story after story of the group coming together to fill gaps in the schedule when one member of the group is sick, or out for personal reasons. She also credits her leadership team and ownership group, 

Lifepoint health, with allowing the hospital to hire experienced professionals who can build upon and continue the level of care for which this hospital has been recognized. 

With so many years here, and so many stories to recount, I asked Jackson if there was one patient who stood out from the hundreds she has worked with over the years. After a few minutes of trying to pick just one, and mentioning a few along the way, a big smile came across her face and she told me about a young woman who was admitted here about 15 years ago. She was, at the time, a college freshman who was paralyzed from the neck down after contracting Guillain-Barre Syndrome. 

She left the hospital having made significant progress and continued her rehabilitation at home. Jackson remained in contact with the patient via social media and reports that she recovered fully, graduated with a degree in physical therapy, and is now working in the field in New York. Jackson is proud of her persistence and recovery, but also the lasting impact it made on this patient who now helps others to get up and get moving again. For Jackson, that is the ultimate accolade! 

You can learn more about how inpatient rehabilitation facilities, including RHRI, are rated for quality of care by visiting this CMS link. You can also compare rehab facilities in your area by clicking here and entering your zip code. 

About The Hospital Association of Rhode Island

Founded more than seventy-five years ago, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island is a statewide trade organization that assists member hospitals in effectively meeting the health care needs of Rhode Island, through advocacy, representation, education, and services. HARI members work collaboratively to improve the quality of care delivered and address issues threatening access to healthcare. HARI members work together to ensure that all Rhode Islanders will receive comprehensive, high-quality health care. 

About The Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island

Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island is a state-of-the-art, inpatient acute rehabilitation hospital dedicated to the treatment and recovery of individuals who have experienced a loss of function due to an injury or illness. We offer intensive, patient-focused, specialized rehabilitation services. Our rehabilitation programs provide ongoing care to patients in their recovery journey. We offer customized, intensive rehabilitation tailored to the individual needs of those recovering from stroke, brain injury, neurological conditions, trauma, spinal cord injury, amputation, and orthopedic injury. Our hospital strives to maximize the health, function, and quality of life of those we serve through comprehensive physical medicine and rehabilitation programs.