Shepherd Center has filed plans for expansion that will provide additional and longer-term housing for patients and families receiving care at the nationally-ranked neurorehabilitation hospital.
The new construction will add approximately 160 housing units for patients and their loved ones, more than doubling the amount of current housing available and allowing all patient families traveling to Shepherd Center to stay in donor-funded housing the entire length of their loved one’s stay.
“The kinds of injuries and illnesses that bring patients to Shepherd Center are challenging not just for patients, but for entire families – physically, emotionally and financially,” said Sarah Morrison, PT, MBA, MHA, president and CEO of Shepherd Center. “Family members become crucial parts of the care team at Shepherd, participating in a wide variety of training and education before they often become primary caregivers when their loved ones return home. Expanded housing will ensure that our patients are surrounded by the love and support they need and that families – no matter where they call home – can be a part of the rehabilitative journey.”
The expansion will take place at the 1860 Peachtree Road site, which Shepherd Center acquired in late 2018. The land acquisition and subsequent expansion was championed by late Shepherd Center co-founder James Shepherd, Jr., who passed away in December 2019. Shepherd Center was founded in 1975 after James sustained a spinal cord injury in 1973.
“From my experience as a case manager for patients and their families at Shepherd Center, housing is one of their main concerns,” said Julie Shepherd, CCM, LMSW, CLCP. “Being able to take this worry off their hearts so that they can focus on the healing path ahead and the return to their communities is a game-changer.”
From April 2020 to March 2021, Shepherd Center served more than 740 inpatients and an additional 250-plus Day Program patients. Underscoring the need for family housing near Shepherd Center, more than half of Shepherd Center’s inpatients during the same time period came from outside of Georgia, and 72% came from outside the metro Atlanta area.
“To this point, we have not been able to grow our family housing at the same pace that our patients and families have needed it,” said Jamie Shepherd, MBA, MHA, chief operating officer of Shepherd Center. “My father often talked about how having his family close by during his rehabilitation made all the difference in his recovery. We are proud to provide a home away from home for our patients and their families and to be able to continue my father’s legacy of caring for both the patient and the family.”
Expanded housing also has implications for patient outcomes due to both the support and encouragement loved ones provide and the family’s ability to easily participate in family training that helps ease the patient’s transition home.
“Throughout Shepherd’s more than 45 years of experience, we’ve consistently witnessed how integral families are in the rehabilitation process – and our outcomes reflect that,” Morrison said. “With well-prepared and supported family members by their side, Shepherd Center patients return home at a higher rate than the national average and have fewer rehospitalizations.”
The expansion offers Shepherd Center room to grow further by including significant green space with the flexibility to eventually build a second tower to provide more patient or family housing, clinical areas and office space.
Shepherd Center is working with architecture firm Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio, development partner Wood Partners and contractor Brasfield & Gorrie on this transformational initiative.