Lipka takes helm at NRRTS

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

LARGO VISTA, Texas - It’s appropriate that Dan Lipka was named the sixth president of the National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers (NRRTS) recently: He was one of the first people to become a NRRTS member, when the organization was started 10 years ago. Lipka, an ATS with Miller’s Assistive Technologies in Akron, Ohio, started his career as an occupational therapist, working with children and adults with cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular conditions in several settings. He was always interested in seating/positioning and mobility, because it was one way he could offer people with even severe impairments greater function and independence. So when a rehab technology position became available at Miller’s, which at the time was the only provider in the area that had any interest or knowledge about adaptive seating and mobility, he took it. That was 16 years ago. Now Lipka’s looking to further solidify his contributions to the rehab industry from the helm of NRRTS. Here’s what he had to say, when HME News caught up with him.

HME: Why did you become involved in NRRTS?

DL: I became a member for the same reasons over 800 other RTSs across the country have. Rehab is a highly specialized area and to be involved in rehab requires training, experience and regular continuing education. When NRRTS was formed, there was a concern about the growing prevalence of unqualified and greedy suppliers who cared more about making a sale than the needs of the consumer. There was a need for some identifiable credential that demonstrated competence and commitment to quality and ethical practice. It is what NRRTS continues to represent today.

HME: How long is your tenure as president? What are your goals as incoming president?

DL: The president position is a two-year commitment. My primary goal is to try and follow the lead of the five previous NRRTS presidents (people I consider to be my mentors) and continue to promote the stated objectives of the organization.

HME: Why is credentialing (NRRTS, RENSA) important? What do you think about what’s going on in Tennessee (how they’ve made quality standards for rehab providers law) and in Georgia (how they’ve made standards policy)?

DL: I believe that credentialing is one important way to help guarantee that consumers get what they need, not what a salesperson wants to sell them. There are far too many examples of consumers getting equipment that not only does not meet their needs, but also can even hurt them. I think the efforts of the people in Tennessee and Georgia are examples of consumers, referral sources and funding agencies coming together and saying we are tired of the unscrupulous acts of a few bad apples, and we expect something better for the people who need quality rehab products and services.

HME: It seems each president looks for some kind of project that will be their legacy, so to speak; what will be yours?

DL: I guess that first and foremost I want to do a good job and not make any major mistakes. I also hope to develop better relationships with funding sources and policy makers. We need to help them realize that although it may seem sensible saving a few dollars on the initial sale of a mobility or seating system, more often than not, skimping on this kind of equipment initially actually costs far more in the long run. I think we need to help funding sources and policy makers better understand that good quality rehab services provided to the consumer using a team approach actually cost less and promote greater independence and healthier lifestyles.