Menorah Medical Center
May 25, 2011

Menorah Medical Center’s award-winning, in-patient rehabilitation department recently added another honor to its growing wall of fame: recognition by Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR) as one of the nation’s top facilities and the only one in Kansas. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Menorah rehabilitation department, led by medical director Gary Berger, DO, has received the UDSMR award and ranked in the upper echelon.

UDSMR maintains the world’s largest database for medical rehabilitation outcomes. It provides a measurement system that documents patient functionality throughout the medical rehabilitation process and is the vendor of choice for nearly 70 percent of the inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRF) industry.

Dr. Berger’s focus is on the whole individual—a strategy that helps the Menorah rehabilitation facility place in the top 10 percent of facilities across the country. At the helm of the award-winning facility since 1992, Dr. Berger has built a team of professionals that works intensively with hundreds of patients to return them to their lifestyle.

Portia Harris is one of those patients. When she met Dr. Berger in February, Harris was not prepared for a lesson in self-esteem. Instead, the 27-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis (MS) thought she was in the hospital to rehabilitate from the effects of a fall she suffered while on mid-winter cruise.

“With Dr. Berger, I got a doctor who not only was excellent at what he does, but also believed in me as an individual—beyond my physical issues,” says Harris.

The self-described sassy and spunky Harris was diagnosed with MS when she was 12 years old—a tender time for any young girl who is busy establishing friendships and is on the cusp of the formative teenage years. “I was paralyzed for nearly three months,” says Harris. “Doctors told me I wouldn’t be that way forever, but it was a scary experience.”

Harris has dealt with the challenges of MS over the years and was excited to take the cruise of a lifetime in February, visiting ports such as Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. She wasn’t feeling well prior to boarding, but was determined to take the dream vacation with her family. Prior to boarding the ship, Harris tumbled down five stairs at a hotel and hit her head.

“At least I didn’t injure my face,” says Harris, her trademark sense of humor intact.

But when Harris landed at KCI following her week of fun in the Mexican sun, she was not laughing. Instead, she could barely walk, open her right hand or talk. Her bladder was weak and she was a puddle of physical exhaustion. Harris’ family doctor was alarmed when his normally articulate patient had difficulty stringing together words to form a simple sentence and admitted Harris to Menorah Medical Center, part of HCA Midwest Health System, Kansas City’s largest healthcare network. Once she was stabilized, Dr. Berger transferred Harris to the rehabilitation department following an interview in her Menorah hospital room.

“A patient’s motivation is to get home quickly,” says Dr. Berger. “I could clearly see that was Portia’s objective.”

The continuum of care—in addition to leading-edge equipment and well-developed parameters—offered to patients on the 12-bed rehabilitation floor of Menorah Medical Center allows for comprehensive treatment. With occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, social services, physical therapists and multi-disciplinary case management, patients like Harris can focus on their recovery in order to get back to their lives.

Dr. Berger and his staff concentrate on the whole person—a characteristic that was immediately apparent to Harris.

“At first it was like a military boot camp,” laughs Harris. “There was structure every minute of the 12 days I was on the rehab floor. But that’s what I needed. Dr. Berger and his team were like cheerleaders. I needed that, too.”

Harris says that Dr. Berger and her physical therapists wouldn’t let her give up. “Jessica, my occupational therapist, and Sam, my physical therapist, along with Dr. Berger, just kept pushing me,” says Harris.

The combination of leading-edge technology, continuum of care and good old-fashioned doctor-patient teamwork that defines Menorah’s rehabilitation department helps patients like Harris realize their inner strength. “Our comprehensive team approach is an important part of getting people back home,” says Dr. Berger.

Harris appreciates the TLC that she received during her stay at Menorah Medical Center’s rehabilitation department. “Dr. Berger helped me look inside myself,” says Harris. “I left there with a lot of new tools to help me in everyday life.”