Featured Speakers

Patient Perspective: Tim Callahan, Tim Callahan Foundation

Tim Callahan grew up playing sports, all the way through high school where he played soccer, basketball and baseball. This trend continued all the way through college, where he played basketball and got involved in a flag football league in Jacksonville, Florida. Before he knew it, his flag football team was nationally ranked, and he spent over ten years playing the sport all over the nation, on TV, and with NFL stars - until one infamous day in July 2010.

While playing, an opposing player fell on top of Tim, causing him to break his neck in two different places; C3 and C4. Tim suffered a severe spinal cord injury and was instantly paralyzed from the neck down. The doctors said he would never walk again, but Tim did not lose faith. He spent two weeks in the UF Health ICU, where he was put on a halo, a ventilator and a feeding tube. He had two separate surgeries, and developed a staph infection, pneumonia and fevers that reached 104. But days after the first surgery he began to regain feeling in his toes. Every day a new sensation returned. He was able to leave UF Health and head over to Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital, where the real recovery process began.

Tim taught himself how to do everything all over again: feed himself, brush his teeth, walk, use the restroom and more. He described it as leaps and bounds, and thanks his incredible therapists for his accomplishments. Three weeks after being told he may never walk again, he took his first steps. After two years of therapy and building his body back, he did the unthinkable: he stepped back on the flag football field and played in a national tournament. Hear more from Tim during his session on Monday, October 25, at 10:00 a.m.

Edward A. Eckenhoff Memorial Award and Lecture: Sponsored by Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare, presented to Dennis O'Malley, Health Care Consultant and Former AMRPA Board Chairman

Denny O’Malley was the President of Craig Hospital from 1974-2008.  Under his leadership, ‎Craig was internationally recognized as a premier center for the rehabilitation and research of ‎adults with spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.  He also served as interim CEO of the ‎Denver Zoo for 15 months in 2017-2018 until a permanent CEO was named.  ‎He was chair of the Board of the Colorado Hospital Association and the American Hospital ‎Association’s Rehabilitation Governing Council.  In 1999, Denny was Chairman of the ‎American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association and has served on numerous other non-‎profit boards during his career, including the Colorado Health Foundation, and as Chair of the ‎Denver Zoo‎.

Denny is now a health care strategy consultant and was the lead consultant in the complex ‎merger of an academic medical center into a large regional community hospital system.  He ‎continues to serve as a consultant to the newly formed system.  He was a consultant to the ‎Executive Director and board of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, a charitable giving ‎foundation which contributes over $25 million annually to spinal cord injury causes.  He is the ‎Executive Director of Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals regarding business ‎operations and new business opportunities and has served as facilitator to the leadership of ‎numerous organizations in their strategic planning efforts.  He serves as strategic advisor to the ‎University of Utah in the launch of a new free-standing rehabilitation hospital which will open ‎in the Summer of 2020.  He has served on the boards of a variety of community organizations ‎in Colorado. ‎He and wife Denise have 6 daughters and 12 grandchildren.‎

Implementing and Sustaining Advanced Telehealth and Technology in Inpatient Rehabilitation

Mara McDermott, Vice President, McDermott+ Consulting, AMRPA Legislative Counsel

Mara is an accomplished health care executive with a deep understanding of federal health care ‎law and policy, including delivery system reform, physician payment and Medicare payment ‎models‎

Most recently Mara served as the senior vice president of federal affairs at America’s Physician ‎Groups (formerly the California Association of Physician Groups, CAPG), a professional ‎association representing medical groups and independent practice associations practicing in ‎capitated, coordinated care models. As head of the Washington, DC, office, Mara worked on ‎behalf of the association’s member organizations to advance policies that promoted coordinated ‎care, including working with members of Congress and their staffs, the administration, health ‎policy stakeholders and coalitions to advance alternative payment models. Mara’s work covered a ‎wide variety of issue areas, including implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP ‎Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and Medicare Advantage policy, as well as issues related to the ‎Medicare physician fee schedule and Medicare accountable care organizations.‎

Jason Peoples, Director of Technology and Innovation, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital

Jason Peoples joined Mary Free Bed joined Mary Free Bed as the Virtual Health Developer and has expanded responsibility for technology and innovations, with an eye on consumerism for the organization. Jason began his journey in healthcare at Carle Health, located in east central Illinois with a focus on voice and video and emerging telehealth technologies in 2009. Learning the family business of consumer audio and video, Jason has always had an affinity for technology at an early age. Fun fact, one of Jason’s first words was “plug”.





Dr. Christopher Plastaras, Clinical Director of Musculoskeletal Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Medicine

Dr. Plastaras is the Clinical Director of Musculoskeletal Spine & Sports Rehabilitation Medicine at MossRehab, Einstein Spine Institute Co-Chair, Clinical Associate Professor, of Rehabilitation Medicine at Jefferson University, and Fellowship Director, MossRehab Interventional Spine & Musculoskeletal Pain Fellowship. He was former Director of the Penn Spine Center at University of Pennsylvania.  He also served as the Director of Penn’s Spine, Sports, and Musculoskeletal Medicine Fellowship from 2009-2018.  He was physician co-lead for the Penn Neuroscience Spine Service Line from 2015-2018.  He is board-certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 

Dr. Plastaras has extensive clinical experience in spine care and performing percutaneous fluoroscopically guided spine procedures and ultrasound guided injections.  He has been a faculty member numerous times at spinal procedures courses offered by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) and The North American Spine Society.  He has lectured on multiple occasions regionally and nationally on spine related topics.  His research focus is on the safety and efficacy of spinal procedures. He has authored 40 original research publications and 39 reviews, chapters, and opinion publications. 

Legislative Update

Kate Beller, EVP for Government Relations and Policy Development, AMRPA

Kate Beller, JD, has served as the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association (AMRPA) Executive Vice President for Policy Development and Government Relations since February 2019. In her current role, Beller helps AMRPA identify current and emerging policy issues affecting the rehabilitation industry, including patient access issues, regulatory burdens, IMPACT Act implementation, and the inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF) prospective payment system and Quality Reporting Program, among many other issues.

Prior to joining AMRPA, Ms. Beller served as a principal at a healthcare-focused consulting/lobbying firm, where she developed and helped lead the legislative and regulatory strategies for post-acute care providers and other entities across the health policy spectrum. She also held positions at AARP and the Center for Excellence in Assisted Living working on long-term care and post-acute care payment and payment access issues. She received her Juris Doctorate at Georgetown University Law Center and her undergraduate degree at Duke University.

Kristen O'Brien, JD, Vice President, McDermott+, AMRPA Washington Counsel

Kristen O’Brien is an accomplished healthcare executive with a deep understanding of regulatory advocacy and healthcare policy efforts. She offers a strong background and a keen eye for solutions to barriers and challenges impacting healthcare clients. With more than 10 years of experience, her work focuses on implementing new laws through the rulemaking process, as well as working with relevant agency officials to develop and improve agency guidance.

Kristen recently served as Principal of the Health Industry Policy and Regulatory Practice Group at a law and lobbying firm where she provided representation for hospital systems, physician practices, medical device companies, digital health companies and trade associations. She has extensive experience in providing analysis and counsel related to government healthcare payment programs under Medicare and Medicaid. She also has extensive knowledge of navigating the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and others.

Previously, Kristen provided legislative and regulatory legal analysis as a senior attorney for the American Medical Association. Additionally, Kristen served on the staff of former Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), focusing on health and environmental issues, as well as financial reform.

Trends and Forecasts for Inpatient Rehabilitation

Sam Fleming, President, Fleming AOD/eRehabData®

Sam Fleming has worked with the rehabilitation industry since 1990 providing services to both individual rehabilitation facilities and the various incarnations of the national trade association for inpatient rehabilitation facilities. His work with providers includes reimbursement policy interpretation and hospital performance optimization.

Sam designs and builds industry-wide econometric models of Medicare policy and performs industry-wide data analysis and outcomes interpretation for the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association. As the President of Fleming-AOD, Inc. his responsibilities include policy analysis, advocacy and education, as well as the design, construction, maintenance and development of the AMRPA’s outcomes systems: eRehabData®.