Maryland Physician Honored for Improving Lives of Individuals with Disabilities - Adventist HealthCare

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Media Contact: Tina Sheesley

Published on December 01, 2008

Maryland Physician Honored for Improving Lives of Individuals with Disabilities

Vision Inspires Independent Living Model for Spinal Cord Injury Patients

Rockville, Md. -Dr. Terrence Sheehan, Chief Medical Officer of Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland, has been named a recipient of the 2008 Rocky Stone Award. The award, given by the Archdiocese of Washington's Advisory Committee on Ministry to Persons with Disabilities, recognizes humanitarian efforts, leadership, advocacy and service to people with disabilities.

Dr. Sheehan was selected for the award, which he received Nov. 30, based on his work in championing an innovative housing program for individuals with severe spinal cord injuries. The program, which has received approval as a Maryland state pilot program, provides six severely disabled Montgomery County residents with an alternative option to nursing home living.  Under the pilot, each of the six residents receives a fully accessible unit at the newly completed MetroPointe apartment complex located above the Wheaton Metro. Rent and in-home care support are subsidized by government and private agencies for the residents who began moving in November 2008.

"Dr. Sheehan's leadership in developing this unique pilot program to provide the opportunity for people with spinal cord injury to live in a bustling community makes him more than a doctor, but a true advocate for enabling patients to lead a thriving life with spinal cord injury," said Betsy Luecking, Disability Policy Specialist for the Aging and Disability Services of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. "Without his expertise and ability to negotiate with housing, nursing, human service professionals as well as the partnership with the faith community, this would have never taken place."

The collaborative pilot is the product of a shared vision among the members of the Adventist/Archdiocese Housing Workgroup. The workgroup, which Dr. Sheehan helped establish in 2003, consists of members of the Washington Archdiocese and the Montgomery County Commission on People with Disabilities. The group has been meeting for the past five years on a monthly basis at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland to discuss the housing issues faced by adults with severe spinal cord injuries and other similar physical impairments.

"I wish to accept this award not on my own behalf but on behalf of everyone involved. A lot of people from both the public and private sector came together giving their time and talents to make this a reality," said Dr. Sheehan. "Hopefully this kind of community partnership will encourage others across Maryland and the nation to do the same. There are too many ‘young people' living in our nursing homes like these six residents.  They have a lot to contribute through work and community activism, if we could help them access community living and maximize their independence."

It is estimated that more than 180,000 disabled persons live in Montgomery County.  Of these individuals, 900 people under the age of 65 currently live in nursing home facilities due to the severity of their conditions, but they would like to live independently.

Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland

Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland is the first and only acute rehabilitation hospital in Montgomery County.  It offers comprehensive rehabilitation programs for traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, amputations, orthopedic injuries and surgeries, sports related injuries, work-related injuries, cardiopulmonary conditions and neurological disorders. Adventist Rehab has locations in Rockville and Takoma Park with outpatient services in Rockville and Silver Spring.

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