The Alabama Power Foundation awarded Faulkner University a generous grant toward its new College of Health Sciences and the future Autism Clinical Center through its Health and Human Services, The Energy to Thrive grant.
The grant was presented to Faulkner President Mike Williams on April 20, 2021 by executives of Alabama Power Company, Leslie Sanders, Vice President of the Southern Division and Mike Jordan, External Affairs Manager.
“Faulkner’s Health Sciences Center will be a key part of Montgomery’s health care infrastructure,” Sanders said. “The Clinic and therapies provided are critical for families now, but the pipeline of graduating qualified healthcare professionals will be important for meeting future needs. Alabama Power is proud to be a part of that mission and helping to elevate our community.”
Since 1989, the Alabama Power Foundation has supported Alabama communities, educational institutions and nonprofits through more than 20,000 grants and scholarships using non-ratepayer dollars.
The grant funds will be used to build, equip and furnish Faulkner’s pro bono Clinical Center including the Clinic Simulation Lab in order to increase the quantity and quality of the free therapy services provided.
“As a result of this grant, Faulkner University will expand our pro bono clinic services by building a larger clinical facility and purchasing equipment so that we can provide better quality and quantity of free services to underserved individuals throughout central and southern Alabama,” said Faulkner Vice Chancellor Dr. Wayne Baker. “The exciting news is that a comprehensive, interdisciplinary Autism Center will be established when all medical degree programs are in place. Currently, our Speech-Language Pathology program is providing a daily clinic to patients and their families that is free to the public. With the addition of Physical and Occupational Therapy programs the University will provide free services to patients of all ages with a wide range of diagnoses along the Autism spectrum.”
Faulkner’s pro bono Speech-Language Pathology Clinic is a small, leased outpatient clinic in the City of Montgomery where speech therapy is provided for patients, newborn through the elderly with articulation, voice, resonance, fluency, language, cognitive, social, hearing, feeding, and swallowing disorders.
The clinic treats patients of all ages with all types of disabilities such as Autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, deaf or hard of hearing, strokes, traumatic brain injuries, cancer, etc. Due to the lack of services in the area, patients drive long distances to receive therapy from as far as Opelika, Andalusia, Selma, Clanton and Alexander City. Due to the small size of the current leased clinic, space and the shortage of services in the River Region, the waitlist has quickly grown to be a year-long wait.
In June 2020, Faulkner purchased the Montgomery East Plaza Shopping Center on Atlanta Hwy. This shopping center includes the 85,000 square foot facility where Burlington Coat Factory used to be located. Faulkner is renovating this facility to become the Health Science Center (including classrooms, labs, library, faculty offices, etc.). Approximately 20,000 square feet of the 85,000 sq. ft. facility is being reserved for the Clinical Center and future Autism Center which will offer speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
The Clinic, operated by the College of Health Sciences, serves two purposes- educating students to become healthcare providers and serving our community with pro bono healthcare services. The healthcare services are provided by students, under the mentorship and watchful eye of professors who are licensed healthcare practitioners. Using this model of care, everyone benefits- the student earns clinical hours toward earning their degree and their license, and the patient receives free healthcare services from some of the best healthcare providers in the region.
In order to properly prepare students to treat patients in the Faulkner Clinic, Faulkner has also built a Clinic Simulation Lab. This space allows professors and students to run healthcare simulations prior to the student seeing a patient. The student can practice critical clinical skills in assessing and treating patients in a risk-free environment that allows them to make mistakes and ask questions. That way, when the student sees an actual patient in the Clinic, they are ready to provide competent care.
Over 600 graduate medical students will be involved in four degree programs. The first program began in the fall of 2018, with the Speech Language Pathology degree. The inaugural class of Physician Assistant degree began classes in October 2020. In the fall of 2021, the Doctor of Physical Therapy will begin, and one year later, the fall of 2022, Doctor of Occupational Therapy will welcome its first class. Both current medical degrees have received their early accrediting credentials and plans are underway to accredit the two additional programs in advance of their start dates.