In 2001, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) — now the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab — set out to build a consumer resource center with both an online presence and a physical location. Embracing the themes of Learning, Innovation, Family and Empowerment (LIFE), the new LIFE Center was installed on the first floor of RIC’s flagship hospital at 345 East Superior Street in Chicago, Illinois.
The LIFE Center provides virtual access to its resources through its website, and everything in the collection relates in some way to people living with a wide range of cognitive and physical impairments, chronic conditions or diseases affecting function. Holdings also include information for family members, clinicians and educators.
In March 2017, the LIFE Center moved to its new home in the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at 355 East Erie Street. Located in the 10th floor Sky Lobby, conveniently adjacent to check-in, the LIFE Center was renamed in honor of Henry B. Betts, M.D.
An early and passionate champion of those we serve, the LIFE Center was Dr. Betts’ brainchild. He knew the importance of information, resources and education for our patients and families. Today, this vital part of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and the future of our work honors and expands Dr. Betts’ beautiful life and legacy.
Visitors to the Henry B. Betts LIFE Center are encouraged to browse and use a comprehensive collection of services and resources.
LIFE Center Programs and Services
Information about support groups, classes, government programs, vendors and organizations related to a wide range of physical and cognitive conditions are included in the collection to connect visitors with resources that span key life topics.
Knowledgeable, expert staff are available to help visitors and professionals find personal connections, trusted resource information aligned with their needs and guidance through their healthcare journeys. There are also computers available to find additional information on our website or find information on the Internet.
The LIFE Center’s peer mentor program is available to inpatients and their families and use role models (peer mentors) to share experience and offer support and inspiration. Having faced similar challenges, mentors can answer questions, offer guidance or just connect. They personify independent living and illustrate, firsthand, possibilities for the future.
The design and expanded resources, programs and services of the LIFE Center were informed by a Resource Needs Assessment, which included a series of interviews and focus groups with patients, families, caregivers, staff and volunteers. More than 200 participants shared opinions and ideas on how to meet the needs of the various population segments who might use the Center. The results informed topics to highlight on our website, Center services and programs.
The study also validated the need to embrace a holistic approach and provide access to information that spans the lifetime needs of people with cognitive or physical impairment, as well as their families. To this end, all Center resources are organized according to eight topics:
- Medical Information & Care
- Caregiving & Equipment
- Housing & Transportation
- Education & Employment
- Support & Wellness
- Recreation & Leisure
- Finance & Law
- Inspiration & Hope
On March 25, 2017, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago became the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and opened the doors to the first-ever, cutting-edge “translational” research hospital of the same name. More than just a change of name and address, the application (or “translation”) of research real time with patients advances exponentially its continued mission “to be the global source of science-driven breakthroughs in Human Ability.”
The results are better, faster outcomes for patients.
With the transformation, rebranding and move into a revolutionary new structure, the focus is no longer on what we do (rehabilitation), but rather on what our patients want to be able to do (ability).
“Our structure integrates scientists directly, 24/7/365, into the clinical domain. Scientists’ labs physically surround patients. As a result, we’re shortening the innovation feedback loop and ensuring that research is more focused — and that scientific findings benefit patients in real time.”
Joanne C. Smith, MD
President & CEO
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
Henry B. Betts LIFE Center
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, 10th floor
355 E. Erie St., Chicago, IL. 60611