January 31, 2013

Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment receives Premier Cares Award and $100,000 for providing mobility-related rehab equipment to the underinsured

ROANOKE, Va. (January 30, 2013) - Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment (F.R.E.E.) has been honored by the Premier healthcare alliance with the 21st annual Monroe E. Trout Premier Cares Award for providing mobility-related rehab equipment to the underinsured.

Based in Roanoke, Va., the Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment received the Premier Cares Award and $100,000. F.R.E.E. helps Virginians achieve independence through mobility when they have no other way to attain that independence.

Sponsored by Premier and its member hospitals, the Cares Award recognizes exemplary efforts by not-for-profit community organizations to improve the health of populations in need. Sonja Schaible, Executive Director of F.R.E.E., received the Cares Award during Premier's annual Governance Education Conference, January 28-30 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

F.R.E.E. was selected to receive the award based on its ability to demonstrate clear, strong and consistent health status improvement outcomes for uninsured and underinsured adults in Virginia and for developing a program that can be replicated in other areas with similar positive results.

A video about F.R.E.E. produced by Premier Health and shown at the conference awards banquet can be viewed at

"F.R.E.E. is honored to receive this national award recognizing our efforts to help Virginians in need achieve independence through mobility," said Dr. Bruce Stelmack, founder of F.R.E.E. "Our success is made possible by the good citizens of Virginia who donate the equipment we gift, by our dedicated chapter volunteers in the communities we serve, and by our caring partners (Goodwill Industries, the Virginia Department of Aging & Rehabilitative Services, the Virginia Assistive Technology System, the Sentara, Centra, Carilion, VCU and Valley healthcare systems, and the individuals and foundations that provide financial support) who make what we do possible. Every dollar of financial support returns over $50 back into the community in equipment and reduced healthcare costs."

Launched in 1999 by a small group of medical professionals focused on rehabilitation therapy, F.R.E.E. now serves significant portions of Virginia. Their vision is a state where every need for mobility-related rehab equipment is fulfilled. F.R.E.E. works with uninsured and underinsured adults who do not have access to mobility equipment and who need to regain mobility lost by injury or illness. The program helps these adults re-enter their communities as active, contributing participants. In Virginia, this at-risk population is growing as a result of increased unemployment and reductions in employer-provided healthcare, a problem exacerbated by the difficult economic conditions of the past few years. F.R.E.E. is a community-based, volunteer-led organization.

A panel of national healthcare leaders selects the Premier Cares Award winner and five finalists, all of which receive cash awards for use in further improving their programs. The Cares Award program spotlights these community-based healthcare initiatives and helps other organizations learn to replicate the best practice programs by featuring information about them on the Cares Award website.

"Each year through our Cares Award program, we honor six organizations that are doing exceptional, innovative work to help a medically underserved population in their communities," said Susan DeVore, Premier's president and CEO. "Through its remarkable services to help people regain mobility and independence, this year's Cares Award recipient - the F.R.E.E. Foundation - is making a true impact on improving healthcare in Virginia."

About the Premier Cares Award
Premier has presented the Cares Award annually since 1991, when it was created by Dr. Monroe E. Trout, former CEO of American Healthcare Systems, one of Premier's heritage organizations. The program has provided more than $3 million to more than 100 organizations nationwide. The Cares Award winner receives a cash prize of $100,000, while five runners-up receive $24,000 each. The competition is open to not-for-profit organizations that have been in existence for more than two years, are providing creative solutions to health status improvement, can provide documentation of outcomes and impact on a specific population, and have programs that can be replicated in other communities.
About the Premier healthcare alliance, Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient
Premier is a performance improvement alliance of more than 2,700 U.S. hospitals and 90,000 other sites using the power of collaboration and technology to lead the transformation to coordinated, high-quality, cost-effective care. Owned by hospitals, health systems and other providers, Premier operates a leading healthcare purchasing network with more than $4 billion in annual savings. Premier also maintains the nation's largest clinical, financial and outcomes database with information on 1 in 4 patient discharges. A world leader in delivering measurable improvements in care, Premier works with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Premier also has an office in Washington. Stay connected with Premier on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.