Iowa LEND Trainee Creates Hotel Accessibility Guide

September 11, 2015

As the August date approached for the Wellstone Patient and Family Conference on the Dystroglycanopathies (a form of muscular dystrophy), the Neuromuscular Clinical Research Team at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) recognized a need for additional information on hotel accessibility options in the Iowa City area. Katie Laubscher, a physical therapist with the Neuromuscular Clinical Research Team and at the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD-Iowa's UCEDD), enlisted the assistance of Shari Huber, a former ILEND trainee and physical therapy student, to research the topic. Huber conducted a comprehensive review over a nine-week period, creating a sustainable product with far-reaching benefits.

"As hosts of the conference, UIHC has a responsibility to provide patients, families and all those in attendance with appropriate and accessible hotel options," says Huber. "Additionally, many patients and families with accessibility needs regularly travel to Iowa City from all across the state to receive care from CDD and other University of Iowa hospitals and clinics."

To provide comprehensive and family-centered care, Huber sought out to gather objective information about hotel options in the area and present it in a way that would be helpful for families. She noted that though hotels are required to comply with ADA guidelines, patients and families often require more information to be confident that hotel accommodations will meet their unique needs. The information which she compiled is based on patient and family input regarding commonly requested items or questions asked while traveling.

Though Huber's LEND traineeship and physical therapy internship have concluded, she has committed to working on the project over the next several months. She is partnering with UIHC Guest Services concierge Sheri Austin to incorporate findings on hotel accessibility as part of the existing hotel/motel guide available on the UIHC Guest Services website. Laubscher intends to continue Huber's work by partnering with LEND trainees and UIHC Guest Services on periodic updates to the guide, ensuring the project's long-term sustainability. "By incorporating this information into our work at CDD," says Huber, "we will improve patient satisfaction and rapport by allowing families to make their own decision about their stay in Iowa City in a way that alleviates stress and worry."

To learn more about this project, please contact CDD Physical Therapist Katie Laubscher at katie-laubscher@uiowa.edu. To learn more about Iowa's LEND project, visit http://www.uihealthcare.org/ucedd/ilend/.