Recognizes Employee Dedication and Service at Magnuson Founders Award and Service Recognition Dinner - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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RIC in the News

Published on September 08, 2007

RIC Recognizes Employee Dedication and Service at Annual Magnuson Awards and Employee Service Ceremony

Local ABC News Disability Reporter Karen Meyer Addresses Employees on Making a Difference in the Lives of People with Disabilities

Mr. David Magnuson, grandson of RIC founder Dr.
Paul B. Magnuson, RIC Founder's Award winner Kim
Eberhardt and RIC President and CEO Dr. Joanne Smith

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) recognized several employees for their commitment to the organization’s vision – to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities –   at the annual Magnuson Awards Celebration and Employee Service Awards on Sept. 8.

The Magnuson Founder’s Award, named after Dr. Paul B. Magnuson who founded RIC in 1954 after being profoundly moved by the personal tribulations of service men and women in World War II, was awarded to Kim Eberhardt, an occupational therapist and differentiation specialist in the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) unit. Recognized for her enthusiasm and high level of involvement outside of the demands of her job, her peers nominated her for her commitment to patient care and her dedication to staying at the forefront of her field. Eberhardt is also distinguished by her work for patient advocacy, her creativity in addressing patient needs and her positive attitude and genuine, caring nature.

The Institute’s annual gathering for its approximately 1,600 employees, honors RIC’s legacy, Dr. Paul Magnuson, who devoted his life to the ongoing care and recovery of patients with disabilities. His pioneering vision and devotion was to return people with disabilities to the mainstream of life. David Magnuson, grandson of Dr. Paul Magnuson, presented the 2007 Magnuson Award to honor Eberhardt, who through her work with people with disabilities represents his grandfather’s vision.

Special guest speaker Karen Meyer, Disability Reporter for local ABC Ch. 7 News, also addressed RIC employees, thanking them for their innumerable contributions to the disability community and for sharing their stories with others. Meyer’s contributions as a disability reporter side with RIC’s commitment to educate Chicago on disability topics.

Other RIC employees acknowledged for their work in extending the Institute’s mission include:

  • Marsha Branche-Spelich, nurse manager in the SCI unit, recipient of the Magnuson Management Award recognizing her willingness to help her staff overcome obstacles, her ability to lead and motivate, and the encouragement she offers for growth and learning.
  • Heather Bava, senior physical therapist, Magnuson Award recipient from the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center alliance recognizing her compassionate attitude towards patients and her dedication to collaboration with care managers.
  • Marlene Rittmueller, outpatient case manager, Magnuson Award recipient from the Alexian Brothers Medical Center alliance recognizing her ability to choose services that best meet her clients’ needs with passion and care.
  • Veronica “Roni” Pepper, rehabilitation technician, Magnuson Award recipient from the Blessing Hospital alliance recognizing her devotion to advocacy, providing the best care and acting as a resource for all patients.
  • Lyra McCarty, occupational therapist, Magnuson Award recipient from the Southern Illinois Rehabilitation Hospital alliance recognizing her dedication to finding creative solutions for her patients’ pain issues as well as her passion for occupational therapy.

Additionally, nearly 300 employees were recognized for their long-term commitment to RIC. Nearly 20 percent of RIC’s employees celebrated five, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years of service at the Institute representing approximately 400 combined years of service.

About The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago is dedicated to helping people with all levels and types of physical disabilities live a fulfilling life. U.S. News & World Report has ranked RIC the “#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America ” every year since 1991. RIC operates a flagship hospital in Chicago as well as a network of DayRehabCenters and outpatient centers located throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. It also maintains strategic alliances with other healthcare providers throughout the state of Illinois and north central Indiana . For more information, visit the RIC website at