Ability KC

May 25, 2017
Unlike most area rehab facilities that treat hips and joints, Ability KC specializes in complex neurological injury or illness, says Nancy Petersen, LCSW, Medical Marketer and Community Liaison.
By Mark Thomas

Ability KC brings together Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City and Children's Therapeutic Learning Center. Annually, 2700 individuals and families receive services for medical rehabilitation, therapeutic preschool, and employment services. In addition, multiple specialty programs and services are offered, such as neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), corporate partnerships for employment opportunities and much more. Ability KC is proud to celebrate 70 years since the beginnings of each agency in 1947. Thousands of lives have been changed and celebrations of successes have occurred due to the generosity of the Kansas City community.

Nancy Petersen, LCSW, Medical Marketer and Community Liaison at Ability KC explains, that the organization offers a wide range of outpatient therapies in a focused environment for their medical rehabilitation programs.

“Fifty percent of our patients have survived strokes,” she said. “We treat individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal cord injuries (SCI), multiple limb loss, multiple traumas, burns and many more diagnoses.  We do the far more complicated.”

What sets Ability KC medical rehabilitation programs apart from most rehabilitation facilities and hospital services is the ability to offer a full day of therapy that counts as a single visit.

“For some patients, one visit equals one day.  The contracts we have with some insurance companies allow us to do quite a bit more than traditional outpatient centers,” Petersen said.

“Unlike most area rehab facilities that treat hips and joints, Ability KC specializes in complex neurological injury or illness,” Petersen said.

Nancy’s primary job responsibility is to visit patients is the hospital to ensure they understand the programs and services offered at Ability KC before they take the next step in their rehabilitation.

“As a non-profit we work with many local and regional hospitals.  Part of my job is to explain to the hospital staff what we do.  If the staff knows the patient is coming to Ability KC, it will be a safe discharge,” said Petersen.

“As patients move through the programs, the focus shifts to post-therapy. Nancy says, We assist independent living, shopping, cooking, and specific skills for the patient to return to school, work or the community.”

Ability KC also offers therapeutic preschool and employment services.

Ability KC Industries, a sheltered workshop program under employment services, provides jobs for over 140 individuals with disabilities. “For the workers there, Petersen says, It is one of the most important things in their world.  They rarely miss a day of work. We also have a large community employment program, with job coaches and offices in outlying cities.”

The Ability KC therapeutic preschool and therapy services serve 293 families with children with special needs each year. “Families with children enrolled at the therapeutic preschool benefit from multiple therapies provided at one location while also working towards kindergarten readiness,” explained Petersen.

“While I spend the majority of time with patients, I also go to a lot of conferences and exhibits to tell our story. I wear a lot of hats.  My job was made for me. I still get to have those patient connections as a social worker, but I get to work with fundraising and marketing events also.”

Petersen stresses the value of Ability KC’s membership in the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

“An important donation of furniture has come from the connection, she said. There are so many people I have met with are very knowledge and I have gained a lot of education to share with my co-workers at Ability KC.  Simply put it is amazing and different than other chambers by far”.


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