Advocacy & News

AMRPA Honors Medical Rehabilitation Champions at the Spring Conference & ‎Congressional Fly-In


AMRPA Honors Medical Rehabilitation Champions at the Spring Conference & Congressional Fly-In
Alison Cernich of the National Institutes of Health and Rep. Terri A. Sewell received the 2020 and 2021 AMRPA Chairman’s Awards

(WASHINGTON – March 26, 2021) – The American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association (AMRPA) recognized two champions of the inpatient medical rehabilitation field with the presentation of the 2020 and 2021 AMRPA Chairman’s Awards during its virtual Spring Conference and Congressional Fly-in, March 15-17.  

Alison Cernich, PhD, ABPP-Cn, deputy director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development ‎‎(NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health,‎ received the 2020 award; and U.S.  Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) received the 2021 award.

The annual AMRPA Chairman’s Award allows for association-wide recognition of and appreciation to members of Congress, regulatory agency leaders and former AMRPA leaders who have demonstrated continued support for the field of medical rehabilitation. Due to last year’s Spring Conference being canceled amid the public health emergency, the 2020 award presentation was rescheduled to this year. 

As deputy director of NICHD, the 2020 Chairman’s Award recipient Dr. Cernich assists the director in overseeing the Institute’s programs supporting research on child development, developmental biology, nutrition, AIDS/HIV, intellectual and developmental disabilities, population health, reproductive biology, contraception, pregnancy and medical rehabilitation. Previously, Dr. Cernich was the director of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) at NICHD.

Before her time at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Cernich worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense on issues related to traumatic brain injury and psychological health and was a liaison between the two departments to inform the prevention, care and long-term follow-up services needed by service members and veterans with these diagnoses.

Upon acceptance of the award, Dr. Cernich said, “It’s a true honor for me – my passion is rehabilitation medicine. I’ve worked in the field since my undergrad years, and the transition I’ve made to the deputy director position at NICHD helps me to integrate rehabilitation research more broadly at NIH to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.” Cernich also spoke about energizing rehabilitation research and creating a functional future for the field.

Congresswoman Sewell, the 2021 Chairman’s Award recipient, is in her sixth term representing Alabama’s 7th ‎Congressional District. She is one of the first women elected to Congress from Alabama in ‎her own right and is the first Black woman to ever serve in the Alabama Congressional ‎delegation.‎ Currently, in the 117th Congress, she serves as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee where she sits on three subcommittees: the ‎Subcommittee on Health, the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, and the Subcommittee on Social Security.‎

This term, she was selected by ‎Democratic leadership to serve as a Chief Deputy Whip, and she sits on the prestigious Steering ‎and Policy Committee. ‎Rep. Sewell stated she plans to re-introduce the Resetting the Impact Act (TRIA), which would ensure that reforms to federal post-acute care payment policy incorporate recent data and the effects of COVID-19 on health care delivery.

During her acceptance speech for the 2021 Chairman’s Award, Rep. Sewell expressed her gratitude to AMRPA and its members, thanking them “for the honor and commitment to ensuring that across every health care setting, patients maximize their health, functional skills, independence and participation in society so they can return home, to work or to an active retirement. Advocacy on issues of public policy, health care and the delivery of medical services is so critical in the fight for stronger and more equitable access to health care for all Americans. AMRPA has truly been a leader in addressing the health care needs of Americans when they most need it.”

Rep. Sewell also spoke of a personal connection with medical rehabilitation, as her late father was treated at an AMRPA member hospital in Birmingham, Ala. “Our lives as we know it were turned upside down, but I will forever be grateful for the care he received at Encompass Health [formerly known as Health South] during our most trying times.”

Learn more about the AMRPA Spring Conference.

Learn more about the 2020 & 2021 AMRPA Chairman Award Winners. 

Media Contact: Julia Scott
AMRPA Marketing Coordinator 
202-207-1110 | [email protected]