Although he works to improve care for South Jersey patients at Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation, Richard Kathrins often looks at the bigger picture.

Kathrins is the newly elected leader of a national trade organization for rehabilitation patients and centers.

He said he uses his experiences at Bacharach to work with experts who introduce new ways to better manage and offer rehabilitation care and services in Washington, D.C.

“We spend time advocating on the Hill for beneficiaries, or patients, and the hospitals that provide rehabilitation services,” said Kathrins, Bacharach’s president and CEO. “As we go forward, there are continuing advancements in treatment and there are better ways of doing things ... to avoid bad outcomes.”

Kathrins has worked in post-acute care and rehabilitation medicine for more than 40 years.

He will begin his term Jan. 1 as chairman of the board of directors of the American Medical Rehabilitation Provider Association.

His board involvement the past several years has led to him and a team of professionals focusing on certain areas of improvement and changes in rehabilitation.

“Our community benefits immensely by having someone of Richard’s respected and esteemed expertise leading our hospital,” said Philip Perskie, Bacharach board of directors chairman.

Some of the areas Kathrins and others have looked into include outcomes of patients who access treatment through Medicare managed-care plans versus fee-for-service and regulatory and policy issues that dictate the volume of patients a provider can see by disease or injury type.

Because advancements in rehabilitation medicine happen so often, the system needs to evolve, as well, Kathrins said.

“Our main goal is to maintain outcomes and improve them for the long term,” he said. “A lot of what we see on a national level applies to here in South Jersey, too. We’re not afraid to blow up the system in order to change it.”

Kathrins has seen many of those changes already in use at Bacharach, which is certified in areas including spinal, brain injury and stroke rehabilitation.

Kathrins said the institute has benefited from working with providers such as AtlantiCare, to care for patients from start to finish or ongoing therapy, as well as Stockton University, which has physical therapy programs that link students to advanced equipment and education with Bacharach experts.

Rehabilitation has come a long way from when Kathrins started in the field, he said, and he looks forward to bringing new advancements and changes to care both in South Jersey and on a national level by working with policymakers and legislators in the nation’s capitol.

“It’s really an amazing group of people dedicated to the work we’re doing for rehab medicine,” he said. “There are a lot of voices out there, and we need to be progressive, open to change and remember that the patients are at the center of everything.”

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Contact: 609-272-7022 Twitter @ACPressNLeonard

Previously interned and reported for, The Asbury Park Press, The Boston Globe

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