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Shepherd Center Takes a Look Back at the Past Decade

As 2020 arrives here at 2020 Peachtree Road, we take a look at some of Shepherd Center’s top milestones.

The close of 2019 marked the end of a decade during which Shepherd Center experienced great triumphs in its mission to help patients rebuild their lives and also heartbreaking loss with the passing of two of its beloved co-founders, James Shepherd and Harold Shepherd. Whether a celebratory or challenging milestone, we have endured with the same enthusiastic spirit that has been part of Shepherd Center’s culture since its founding in 1975.

As we welcome this new decade and the endless possibilities it offers, here is a recap of some of the most significant milestones from the past 10 years.

2010: Shepherd Center completed a $9.8 million renovation and remodeling project that created more private rooms for patients, added a second brain injury unit, and reconfigured and remodeled various units in the Center.

2010: Shepherd Center increased its number of beds to 152, including a 10-bed ICU.

2010: Shepherd Center launched a new educational video series about spinal cord and brain injury to help people better understand their new injury, the path to recovery and functional expectations.

2013: Shepherd Center began testing Indego®, a new powered exoskeleton device designed to assist walking in people with spinal cord injury and other mobility-limiting conditions. It was developed by Vanderbilt University engineers in consultation with Shepherd Center researchers and then licensed and manufactured by Parker Hannifin Corporation.

2014: Shepherd Center embarked on a $12.5 million renovation and building project to add 13,000 square feet for an expanded and updated lab, pharmacy and MRI suite.

2014: Shepherd’s Men, comprised of active and retired servicemen, as well as civilian volunteers, enthusiastically began raising awareness and funds for the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center through annual events. Since 2014, Shepherd’s Men has raised more than $5 million to support the SHARE Military Initiative.

2015: Shepherd Center celebrated its 40th anniversary. In its first 40 years, Shepherd Center grew from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital.

2016: Shepherd Center launched the Complex Concussion Clinic to address complications of mild brain injuries in patients.

2017: Michael Yochelson, M.D., MBA, is named chief medical officer of Shepherd Center, as Donald Peck Leslie, M.D., retires as medical director after 13 years (and 34 years total on medical staff) and becomes medical director emeritus and special adviser to the Shepherd Center Foundation.

2017: Thanks to a gift from The Marcus Foundation, Shepherd Center opened a new facility at 80 Peachtree Park Drive to house the SHARE Military Initiative. The facility also houses the Complex Concussion Clinic and Eula C. and Andrew C. Carlos Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation and Wellness Program.

2017: Sarah Morrison, PT, MBA, MHA, became president and CEO of Shepherd Center, having served in various leadership roles at the hospital since 1984. Before assuming the top role, Morrison served as vice president of clinical services and also as director of the Shepherd Center Spinal Cord Injury Program. Before that, she worked at Shepherd Center as a director of the medical surgical and ICU programs, manager of the Spinal Cord Injury Day Program, a physical therapy supervisor and a physical therapist.

2017: Shepherd Center Board Member Juli Owens created a Shepherd Center experience at the Peachtree Health and Fitness Expo, highlighting the Wheelchair Division of the AJC Peachtree Road Race, adaptive sports and Shepherd Center’s partnership with Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that trains and provides facility dogs to organization such as Shepherd Center.

2017: Shepherd Center launched AutoCoach®. Partnering with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) and IT management consulting firm CapTech, Shepherd Center’s certified driver rehabilitation specialists and injury prevention experts used their specialized training to create the innovative app that makes it easier for adults to effectively teach their teens to drive defensively and safely.

2018: Thanks to a generous donor, Shepherd Center’s CT scanner became operational in August 2018. Having a CT scanner in house has saved hundreds of hours of nursing staff time by eliminating the need to move patients to adjacent Piedmont Atlanta Hospital for these scans. This allows our nurses more time to be on the rehabilitation units with our patients.

2018: Shepherd Center launched the NeuroRehabilitation Learning Institute to offer interdisciplinary professional education to support the treatment of complex neurological conditions such as brain and spinal cord injury. Shepherd Center is committed to sharing its expertise with clinicians nationwide so that its patients receive informed care to meet their needs once they return to their communities.

2018: Shepherd Center’s Director of Multiple Sclerosis Research Debbie Backus, PT, Ph.D., began research funded by the hospital’s largest research grant to date – a PCORI grant of $5.7 million over four years to study the delivery and effects of exercise for people with MS. This grant signifies the commitment of our Crawford Research Institute in securing grants that directly improve the care we provide our patients. Shepherd researchers have garnered current multi-year grants that total more than $17 million.

2018: Shepherd Center Foundation’s annual Legendary Party had the opportunity to honor co-founders Alana and Harold Shepherd, raising a record $6.2 million in 2018 and an astounding $19.1 million over the decade for patient and family programs.

2018: Shepherd Center acquired 2.6 acres of nearby land to expand our family housing program. Shepherd Center is committed to reducing the financial and emotional burden our families experience during one of the most challenging times of their lives. This housing expansion will allow for our out-of-town families to stay with their loved ones for as long as they are at Shepherd Center.

2018: The naming of the J. Harold Shepherd Parkway section of Peachtree Road honored Shepherd Center co-founder, the late Harold Shepherd. This is a testament to the incredible contributions Harold Shepherd made to Atlanta and beyond, as well as to the community support for the Shepherd family and the recognition of Shepherd Center’s ability to provide its patients with hope, dignity and independence.

2018: Shepherd Center released a video series for women with spinal cord injury titled “Empowering Women After SCI: Safe Healthcare Goes Beyond Accessibility.” The series aims to empower women who have sustained spinal cord injuries to advocate for their own health and wellness. The videos also serve to better equip healthcare providers to treat women with SCI.

2018: Shepherd Center mourned the loss of co-founder Harold Shepherd. He passed away on December 10, 2018, leaving a legacy of generosity and kindness.

2019: Shepherd Center was recognized in Forbes’ inaugural list of America’s Best-in-State Employers for 2019. The hospital ranked No. 10 among the 56 employers included in the list for Georgia.

2019: Shepherd Center was named one of Atlanta’s “Best Places to Work” in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 16th annual ranking of 103 metro area companies. Shepherd Center was recognized as the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s #4 Best Place to Work in the extra-large company (500-plus employees) category. Shepherd is the only hospital recognized among the top 12 Atlanta companies. The newspaper also ranked Shepherd Center among the Best Places to Work in its 2017 and 2018 listings.

2019: Shepherd Center’s employee giving campaign (ShepherdCares) raised more than $214,000 with 85 percent of Shepherd Center staff contributing to the campaign. It has raised a total of $1.6 million over the last decade. The commitment of employees helps continue our differentiating, value-added services.

2019: Thanks to a generous donor, Shepherd Center installed a new 3.0 Tesla MRI in our MRI suite. The addition enhanced Shepherd Center’s in-house imaging capabilities, adding additional precision and convenience to patient care.

2019: Shepherd Center launched a new electronic medical record system called Epic to enhance patient safety, collaboration and efficiency to meet patients’ unique needs across the continuum of care.

2019: Shepherd received three new facility dogs from our friends at Canine Companions for Independence, bringing our current total to six. Made possible through donor support and handled by highly-trained Shepherd Center employees, our facility dogs know up to 40 commands – such as getting items out of a refrigerator, opening a door and pushing an elevator button – all activities that help facilitate the independence that Shepherd Center patients and clients work toward.

2019: Shepherd Center was recognized as one of the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation for the 11th consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report in the magazine’s 2019-20 Best Hospitals rankings.

2019: Shepherd Center launched a new partnership program called ShepherdConnect designed so that employers, hospitals and health systems can connect their employees, families and patients to the world-class rehabilitation care that Shepherd Center provides when patients and families need it most.

2019: Jamie Shepherd, MBA, MHA, chief operating officer of Shepherd Center, was honored as one Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under Forty.

2019: Shepherd Center co-founders Alana Shepherd and James Shepherd were recognized on August 22, 2019, with Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Most Admired CEOs Awards dinner. They were among 44 leaders in 22 categories and industries, from accounting to utilities and energy, who were honored.

2019: Shepherd Center co-founder James Shepherd passed away on December 21, 2019, in Atlanta surrounded by loved ones. Family and friends remember James as a savvy businessman, good-humored prankster, kind friend and dedicated advocate for people with disabilities. In the 46 years since his paralyzing injury, he, along with his co-founders, helped build Shepherd Center as the bridge from “I can’t,” to “I can.”

Compiled by Damjana Alverson

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.