An interview with Farheen Arshia Khan, DO
Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation - Lakeway
At a national medical conference in late 2018, Dr. Farheen Khan met Dr. Amy Wilson, then-chief medical officer for Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR). Their conversation revealed a shared a passion for medical rehabilitation and vision for advancing the field. When Dr. Khan subsequently mentioned she and her family planned to relocate from Louisiana to Austin, Texas, Dr. Wilson knew she had the ideal candidate for the position of medical director at BSWIR-Lakeway.
Dr. Khan recently sat down for a Q&A with the editors of Perspectives.
It sounds like you were in the right place at the right time.
It really was a serendipitous meeting, or maybe just fate. I was born and raised in New Orleans, did my residency at Louisiana State University Medical Center and became medical director at Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria, about three hours north of my hometown. My husband, who is an ophthalmologist, received an exceptional career offer in Austin. We discussed the pros and cons, including having to uproot our three young children, and realized that while we would miss family and friends, this was too important an opportunity to pass up.
You joined BSWIR-Lakeway in January 2020 – just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the county. How did that impact your initial goals?
I was looking forward to building a strong, collaborative team to drive delivery of safe, high- quality patient care at our 36-bed hospital. I wanted them to be responsive to the needs of our diverse patient populations and lead the way in innovative treatment and outcomes. I also sought to expand BSWIR’s exceptional reputation across central Texas.
Fortunately, I had a few weeks to settle in, work with the team and set some goals before COVID took root. We quickly switched gears to adopt the necessary practices, implement new processes and follow DC, Baylor Scott & White Health and Select Medical guidelines.
Did you have any particular concerns?
My first concern was, of course, the health and safety or our patients and staff – especially since so much about the virus was unknown. We were tasked with meeting the unique needs of COVID survivors, continuing to manage the complexities of our other patient populations – and, of course, keeping everyone safe. With our ‘Safe Care’ protocols in place, we able to mitigate any concerns patients and families had about receiving the inpatient rehabilitation services they needed.
On another level, I hoped that the level of collegiality and team spirit we had begun to experience wouldn’t falter under the weight of PPEs and other mandates. I wondered how we would come to know the face – the person – behind the mask, which is so important to fostering trust with patients and across the entire medical, clinical and administrative team.
We came to understand that we were in this together and by remaining united would we overcome COVID’s challenges. Communication was key.
When did you see things turnaround?
When masking and social distancing started to become the new norm. It became apparent that we would have to find a way to treat patients with precautions in place, keeping the safety of patients, staff and families top of mind.
You bring a wealth of knowledge to your role. How did you decide to specialize in medical rehabilitation?
Like many med school students, I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go. [Dr. Khan graduated from Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, California] An internal medicine rotation at Rancho Los Amigos in Los Angeles introduced me to rehabilitation. I found working with patients with brain, spinal cord and other neurologic injuries, stroke and orthopedic trauma to be both challenging and gratifying. I completed my academic training, became board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and later earned certification in pain management.
What is your vision for BSWIR-Lakeway going forward?
The Lakeway/Austin area is experiencing remarkable growth and the demand for quality rehabilitation programs and services is expected to expand as well. We’ve been building strong relationships with acute care providers throughout the region, including BSW Medical Centers. Although we’re located about 20-25 miles outside Austin, our scope of services, including specialized day neuro and new wound care center programs, contribute to our burgeoning reputation as a rehab provider of choice.
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