The new innovative merger combines primary health care with speciality services for people with medical needs related to their disability — a first in Alabama.
All Under One Roof
Here is how it works.
Presently, United Ability offers a wide range of clinics and therapy services through its Ability Clinic to meet the needs of infants, children, adolescents and adults with disabilities.
Through its groundbreaking partnership with Cahaba Medical Care, the Ability Clinic will not only cater to people needing disability services but will also provide high-quality, comprehensive on-campus primary care that also includes integrated behavioral health, social support and nutrition services.
By providing convenient and accessible resources all under one roof, this partnership will positively impact thousands of people across the state.
It Makes Complete Sense
For United Ability’s Chief Executive Officer Susan Sellers, the new partnership with Cahaba Medical Care fits United Ability’s holistic approach.
Sellers described to Bham Now how she had the good fortune in the mid-1990s of starting a community health center in Texas. At the time, she learned firsthand how community health centers worked and how they greatly enhanced access to healthcare for underserved communities. When she took the reins at United Ability in May of 2020, she soon discovered the Ability Clinic could benefit by partnering with a community health center like Cahaba Medical Care.
“It just made complete sense to me that we look into partnering with a community health center,” said Sellers. “We’d see it every day, especially in the adult day program; they just didn’t have access to a good primary care provider that understood their specific health concerns and health needs. There are a lot of things that are unique to individuals with disabilities.
We have always tried to create a holistic environment for everyone that we care for. It just seemed logical that we would look into partnering with someone like Cahaba Medical Care that can bring so much more to the table for our participants and our families.”
For Families Health Care in One Place Matters
How important is this new service to United Ability families?
For Jessica Little and her twin daughters, Sarah and Harper, it is a godsend.
Born three months early, both girls—who are now four years old—have been a part of United Ability all their lives. They began at a very young age with United Ability’s Early Intervention Program and then went to Hand in Hand for pre-school and therapy at the Ability Clinic.
According to Jessica, having primary care and other health services supporting her daughters will make a huge difference.
“Being preemies and having disabilities comes with complex needs that aren’t usually seen every day — they’re not typical,” explained Jessica. “To have a medical clinic here that specializes in kids with disabilities, it (Cahaba Medical Care) brings a lot of peace and confidence. Nothing surprises them.
And I think it also helps me with the stress of advocating for Sarah and Harper because they are in it with us. The medical clinic is advocating for the best care and the best treatment. The holistic interdisciplinary approach with the medical clinic—the nutritionist, the nurse practitioner, right literally down the hall from the therapist, nothing is overlooked.”
The convenience of having health care service nearby, especially when considering mobility issues, cannot be underestimated. Because of the new joint program, the Little family, for example, has to deal with only one parking, one drop-off place to access a wide range of services in one building. No more multiple trips, multiple appointments, navigating parking garages and waiting weeks and months in between services.
Dr. John Waits, CEO of Cahaba Medical Care, is confident the partnership between Cahaba Medical Care and United Ability will have a lasting impact on differently abled families across Alabama.
“When Susan first approached us, we were captivated by United Ability’s vision,” he said. “One of the reasons this relationship works so well is that the one-stop approach is exactly how Cahaba Medical Care has tried to structure our brand of primary care and our other 24 locations around the Central Alabama area. We’ve prided ourselves in trying to have things under one roof.”
One other benefit of the program is that Cahaba Medical Care has “a lot of learners in their system, people becoming doctors, nurses, practitioners and more,” according to Dr. Waits.
Both Sellers and Waits agree: having those learners work alongside the United Ability’s therapist and patients is an invaluable experience.
Alabama is a better place when we all work together. The Cahaba Medical Care/United Ability partnership shows that.
To learn more about this first of its kind program contact — United Ability.