Commitment. Respect. Integrity. These are the foundations of Concept Rehab, Incorporated (CRI). Founded in 1984 by Lourdes President's Advisory Council member Joan Bayer, CRI has built an unparalleled reputation for providing the highest level of patient therapy care throughout the Midwest.
"When I first started Concept Rehab, we operated out of the trunk of our cars quite literally," shares Joan. "It wasn't always easy, but when you're working for something that you feel passionately about, it's all worth the effort."
As a physical therapist, Joan says that "the career really chose me. I consider myself a spiritual person, and believe that in His own way, God pointed me in the right direction.
"As a college student, I first studied physical education. After taking over a junior high class while the teacher was on maternity leave, I quickly realized that this career was not for me."
"I transferred into a physical therapy program instead and will never forget my first clinical," continues Joan. "I was assigned observation in the burn unit of a local hospital and watched therapists work with a woman who had sustained burns to 90% of her body as a result of domestic violence.
"It was heart-wrenching to see how much pain she was in, but I knew that the therapists were there to help her heal. That's when I knew that this was where my heart belonged!"
Joan found her way to Toledo after accepting a position as Director of Physical Therapy at St. Charles Hospital. "I was with St. Charles in various capacities for many years – it was my first experience working in a mission-driven environment. Here, I found the value in having a mission and in working for something other than the bottom line. It changed the way I viewed my life and work."
She took that mission-driven focus and instilled it into Concept Rehab. Today CRI's grown into a multi-state company owned and operated on all levels by more than 700 therapists – but one thing that has not changed through the company's growth is its mission and passion for helping others.
Joan's efforts and accomplishments have been recognized in the community as well. She is a former recipient of Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award and has served in a variety of leadership roles throughout the area.
"I served on the Board of Trustees at Maumee Valley Country Day School (MVCD) for many years and was President of the Board as well," she notes. "MVCD is where my other passion began. I enrolled my daughter Morgan at MVCD after hearing wonderful things about the school and through her experience, learned the true value of a private education."
Her dedication to private education has continued through her role on the Lourdes University President's Advisory Council. "I've been part of the council for several years now," adds Joan. "It's been incredible to watch Lourdes become a real force in the region.
"Much of the school's success is attributable to the strong leadership and vision of Dr. Helmer. From the very beginning, I've enjoyed seeing him work – the way that he lays everything out strategically – well, it's pretty incredible."
Joan says that the President's Advisory Council exists as a sounding board for Dr. Helmer. "We are a diverse group, all leaders within the community and our respective fields, and we're here to listen to his vision and goals and give him open and honest feedback. It's very important that a President have a trusted group of peers with whom he can share his thoughts."
As Lourdes has continued to grow, Joan says that what she finds most inspiring about the University is its continued commitment to its mission and values. "I think it's very honorable that while Lourdes has grown, it hasn't increased requirements for admission.
"Rather, Lourdes has stayed true to its mission of serving those students who are most in need of a caring, personalized atmosphere in order to succeed academically. Those are the students who truly belong at Lourdes and I'm so pleased to see the University continue to serve them."
Joan also says that it has been a wonderful opportunity to see Lourdes' mission actualized in its academic programs. "The programs that Lourdes has invested in such as Organizational Leadership and Nurse Anesthesia are perfect examples of this commitment to providing a holistic, values-centered education."
"I believe that in order to be an institution of excellence, you have to do excellent work. You have to have a mission and carry that mission out. It's really about walking the walk – and I'm proud to say that CRI and Lourdes are shining examples of this. I can't wait to see what the future holds for both!"