NRRTS mounts offensive as membership drops off

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TRINIDAD, Colo.--With rehab companies pinching every penny, NRRTS recently kicked off a campaign to convince them and their employees to renew their memberships.

Over the last few years, NRRTS has lost about 34 members. The reasons, say officials: Some rehab companies have stopped covering the $200 annual membership fee for their employees, who, in turn, don’t want to pick up the tab; and some rehab companies no longer make NRRTS a priority, now that CMS requires them to have RESNA-certified assistive technology practitioners (ATPs) on staff to provide certain complex wheelchairs.

“We need to get ourselves back to the 800- to 850-member mark,” said Simon Margolis, executive director of NRRTS. “We’re not spiraling out of control, but we want to start working on this now, so we don’t get to that point.”

As part of its campaign, NRRTS has launched the “Gallery of Champions,” a program for medium- to large-sized rehab companies that agree to register a certain percentage of their employees as members.

Also, it has developed a brochure that pictures a panda and asks: “Is the Professional RTS an Endangered Species?” The brochure outlines the benefits of being a NRRTS member.

For Michele Gunn, being a NRRTS member means having access to industry news (through e-mails, a listserv and a quarterly publication called “Directions”) and teleseminars offering continuing education units (CEUs).

“If my employer didn’t cover the membership fee, I would write the check myself,” said Gunn, who sits on NRRTS’s board of directors and works for Browning’s Pharmacy and Health Care in Melbourne, Fla. “It’s worth it.”

Additionally, NRRTS membership offers numerous intangible benefits, says Weesie Walker, NRRTS president and manager of National Seating & Mobility’s branch in Atlanta.

“It gives me access to people like Laura Cohen and Rita Hostak,” she said. “That comes in handy when you’re trying to fight changes.”