The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) christened the Alabama Power Foundation Nursing Clinic Tuesday, a $2 million facility that improves access to modern healthcare for the students, faculty and staff at the school.
“AIDB proudly celebrates the opening of the Alabama Power Foundation Nursing Clinic and we’re so grateful for the creative energy this new facility is bringing to our Health and Clinical Services program,” said John Mascia, president of AIDB. “The health and well-being of our students has been a concern of every AIDB president since Joseph Henry Johnson, who himself was a trained medical doctor.”
Johnson established AIDB in 1858.
AIDB’s nursing clinic has been housed in the same building since 1938 and treatment for sick students was on the third floor. Mascia said a more modern, easily accessible building like they now have has been a need for decades.
Myla Calhoun, president of the Alabama Power Foundation, said the organization has supported AIDB for more than three decades.
“As we invest in the health and well-being of the students that the institute serves, it only makes sense for us to really take a look at this facility and what we could do to enhance outcomes here,” she said. “AIDB is a phenomenal bright spot for the state. I think that our involvement is an honor for us as much as anything.”
Students from AIDB presented donors with framed mementos at the dedication of the new facility. Georgia Aplin, a fifth-grade student from the Alabama School for the Blind, sang a moving rendition of “Stars Fell on Alabama” as part of the ceremony.
Calhoun said the students are the reason Alabama Power Foundation supports AIDB.
“We need these students to help Alabama reach its best potential,” she said. “We need them to be a part of the growth that the state so deserves and we know they can. We’re here to help foster that.”
Mascia said AIDB’s history demonstrates the need for on-campus healthcare.
Overcrowded dorms and classrooms in the winter of 1925 coupled with an influenza epidemic that gripped the school led to 90 percent of the students and nearly all the faculty contracting the flu. Of them, 20 students developed pneumonia and a teacher and five students later died.
The next year the school hired its first nurse and made on-campus care a regular part of AIDB’s mission.
Mascia cited national Individual Disabilities Education Act statistics that found 1 in 9 students with a disability will have chronic medical issues that affect their educational experience.
“AIDB considers quality health and wellness programs to be a high priority for our deaf, blind and deaf-blind students, especially those on our residential campuses,” he said.
“Our new Nursing Clinic has improved accessibility for students and improved functionality for our staff,” Mascia added. “There’s a new examination area and a more effective system for monitoring patients. Private gifts to the AIDB Foundation are making this project a reality and we are very grateful to all of our donors, and especially to our lead contributors – Alabama Power Foundation, Daniel Foundation of Alabama and East Alabama Medical Center.”
Calhoun said seeing how the foundation’s money is put to work is inspiring.
“When we get to come out and see what is happening with our dollars and how it’s leveraged and the differences that it’s making in lives, it really resonates and makes the work that we do so much more meaningful,” she said.
Karissa Twymon, director of AIDB Health and Clinical Services, said the new facility will improve the institute’s overall mission.
“We are here to ensure our students experience the best possible healthcare and, through your gifts, the new nursing clinic is truly an extraordinary shot in the arm for our program,” she said.
She said the facility, coupled with the work of nurses, will lead to the best possible outcomes.
“I salute our nursing staff today for your talent and dedication and especially for your limitless amount of caring,” Twymon said.
Tony Smoke, vice president of Alabama Power’s Eastern Division, where AIDB is based, said giving back to the community is what corporate citizens are called to do.
“Alabama is a great state and has great citizens,” he said. “Being able to be a part of the community and provide the citizens with what we’re doing to help them be better citizens and help them have a better quality of life, that’s what it’s all about.”
AIDB this year marks its 160th year of service to Alabamians with hearing and vision loss. It serves almost 25,000 deaf and blind children and adults in all 67 counties through five campuses in Talladega and a network of regional centers in Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Talladega, Tuscaloosa and Tuscumbia.