Rehab providers 'open up their eyes' to home modifications

Thursday, December 20, 2007

WATERLOO, Iowa - U.S. Rehab helped about 70 rehab providers become certified environmental access consultants (CEACs) in 2007 and hopes to double that number in 2008.

That shouldn't be too hard, officials say, considering an unsavory Medicare landscape that includes significantly reduced reimbursement for power wheelchairs and scooters, and national competitive bidding.

"We're getting a lot of interest in the CEAC credential from providers who are looking to diversify," said Jerry Keiderling, vice president of U.S. Rehab, a division of The VGM Group.

U.S. Rehab took over the credential in mid-2006 from PRIME, an accredited provider of medical and professional education. At the time, there were only 32 CEACs.

Michelle Jackson became a CEAC in 2007 through U.S. Rehab. Jackson, president of Frontier Access and Mobility in Cheyenne, Wy., also holds a certified rehab technology supplier (CRTS) credential and employs Wyoming's only assistive technology supplier (ATS).

"Because we're a growing business, we run by the seats of our pants every day, but we know it's important that people are trained," she said. "It's important to say to our clients and our funding sources, 'Here are my credentials.'"

Frontier Access works with local contractors to do everything from constructing ramps to installing roll-in showers to building custom-designed wheelchair-accessible vanities.

In 2008, U.S. Rehab plans to ramp up marketing for the CEAC credential through road shows, teleconferences and Webinars, Keiderling said.

"I think rehab providers are starting to open up their eyes," he said. "There isn't a wheelchair out there that can do everything a disabled or elderly person needs it to do."