George Soper Interview
When he arrived in South Bend in 1980, the field of rehabilitation in Indiana "was in desperate need of some rapid growth," recalls George Soper. George had moved from Iowa, where he completed a doctoral work in the area of rehabilitation. Having started as a physical therapist, the focus of George's career became hospital administration. He retired in 2011 as Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer for South Bend's Memorial Hospital & Health System. He worked for the hospital for 31 years. When he was interviewed in South Bend in 2013, George was living in New Buffalo, Michigan.
George had been hired to build up the rehabilitation unit at Memorial Hospital in 1980. He describes how the number of physical and occupational therapists has grown from two of each to 37 and 25 therapists, respectively. He developed one of the first rehabilitation engineering programs, creating seating for mobility purposes and other adaptive equipment. "We had people come in from literally all over the country to see what we were doing." He also started an innovative driver rehabilitation and training program for people with disabilities in the early 1980s.
George discusses trends in rehabilitation such as the reduced length of hospital stays that led to expansion of outpatient services, how "lifestyle abuse" has led to needs for rehab services, and future training needs related to the growing aging population. George, who has twice won a Franklin Covey Community Service Award, also discusses the influence of Steven Covey's "Seven Habits" philosophy in his life and work.
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