The Role of reachAbility in Integrated Care

The following is a message from our President, Dr. Bruce Mills: For 15 years, reachAbility has provided comprehensive programs to young adults living with disabilities. The agency frequently functions as a bridge between a life-altering diagnosis or a prolonged period of dysfunction on the one hand and adaptation to community involvement (including employment) on the other. The founding principle of the agency is to provide an inclusive, safe and creative place where people are given opportunities to achieve positive change through personal growth. Committed to tangible, functional outcomes, clients often achieve goals that were previously impossible to imagine.

Our philosophy is that it takes a village to improve and sustain wellbeing. Just as there are many sources and causes of pathology, there are many sources and causes of health and wellbeing. And since most determinants of health are non-medical, reachAbility engages educators, spiritual leaders, families, peers, employers, lawyers, governments – everyone who we believe is a stakeholder in the health of the individual – in our role of facilitating healthy outcomes for clients. Healthy people creating healthy communities is reciprocal when healthy communities share roles and responsibilities in producing and sustaining healthy individuals. No one knows this better than the primary care physician on the front line!

Like the village, integrated or holistic approaches to health that embrace and employ many sources and causes of wellbeing make sense because they work. Within this model, the primary care physician functions on the spectrum as the grounding force in an individual’s health, providing fundamental, necessary medical care as required over the lifespan (including diagnosis, monitoring, medication, referral). And reachAbility, as a continuation of the trajectory, assures that healthy outcomes are achieved by providing access to other relevant determinants of health. Beyond this trajectory, reachAbility also provides new knowledge (education, culture, workplace readiness, etc) throughout the community to guarantee that healthy outcomes are sustainable over the longer term.

The thousands of clients we have served since 2000 represents a substantial savings in health care spending while, at the same time, proving an effective and efficient methodology for achieving long-term, good quality, sustainable health outcomes.  For this reason, primary care physicians considering an integrated care approach for patients should consider that one referral to reachAbility will access dozens of interventions specially tailored to the specific needs of the individual – with long term, sustainable health outcomes as a shared, primary goal.

One part of the integrated approach that is universally and persistently problematic (across the spectrum) is adequate mental health services.  Clearly 99% of referrals present varying degrees of psychopathology on intake. To address this gap, and based on visible need, reachAbility is rolling out its own specialized mental health clinics this year. Unless we are able to address mental disabilities directly, clients are doomed to fail; communities will not flourish when people re-entering these communities are sick.

We count on primary care physicians as active members of our village approach to health care. Together, with your expertise and involvement, we will create a community that is inclusive, diverse and equitable.