'We have an opportunity'
LAGO VISTA, Texas - One would be hard pressed to find a part of the rehab industry that Simon Margolis hasn't touched. Margolis, who became NRRTS's first executive director in January, has worked for a national provider (National Seating & Mobility for the past seven years), has led two major industry organizations (RESNA and NRRTS) and continues to help steer another (NCART). It's fitting, then, that NRRTS now looks to Margolis, one of its founding board members, for guidance in the wake of CMS's decision to turn the power mobility benefit upside down. Here's what Margolis had to say about the future of NRRTS--and the industry--when HME News caught up with him in January.
HME News: How does having a full-time executive director boost NRRTS's profile?
Simon Margolis: It means having a person dedicated to the mission and goals of NRRTS and a person dedicated to giving members the time they deserve in terms of staff leadership and program development. Also, it means more legislative and regulatory clout. With 800 members--that represents a lot of potential political capital, especially if you multiple those members by all the clients and therapists they work with.
HME: In a release, NRRTS President Mike Seidel mentioned the industry's road ahead: the "potentially tough times and the equally great opportunities." How do you see NRRTS guiding the rehab industry through those times?
Margolis: We have to stay focused on the prize: creating a professional organization that serves people with disabilities. Everything else has to funnel through that. The issue of the problems we're facing--well, we just have to educate people on what they need to do. Some people will be able to do it; some people won't. There are no guarantees that everyone working in the field now will be working in the field two years from now. Due to external forces, it's not a great time to be part of this industry, but we have an opportunity, now, to gain even more recognition for rehab technology suppliers.
HME: How do you see RTSs gaining more recognition?
Margolis: I think that someone, whether it be NRRTS or RESNA or an institution of higher education, needs to develop a specialty exam in the area of seating and wheeled mobility, and the exam needs to be a requirement of becoming a CRTS. Being a NRRTS registrant is an incubation pond for people. They have some experience, but they need to get more before they can move on to the next level. A specialty exam would help create an apprentice and masters level--it just has to be that way for any profession to be viable over time.
HME: Since RESNA has already formed a committee to develop a specialty credential for seating and wheeled mobility (See HME News February 2007), where does NRRTS fit into the picture?
Margolis: NRRTS is looking for the right vehicle and venue to make it work. There's the potential to work with RESNA. There's the potential to work with the University of Pittsburgh or other institutions with strong rehab technology programs. What's important is that the exam be developed and that the people who take the exam have a major impact on its development.
HME: What's NRRTS's strategy in the wake of CMS's decision to require RESNA's ATP credential for certain power wheelchair evaluations beginning in 2008 but not NRRTS's RRTS or CRTS credentials?
Margolis: The strategy is to present a solid case for why a CRTS or even an RRTS would fulfill that purpose. We have to beef up our registration process, then I can go, with good faith, to CMS or the PSC medical directors and say, "Listen guys, you don't have enough ATPs out there, anyway, so we need to look at all the people who currently provide services in a professional and ethical manner and somehow include them in the process."