On Monday, the UAB Department of Family and Community Medicine officially opened its new clinic space at UAB Hospital-Highlands, moving from a previous clinic on the fourth floor to a newly renovated clinic on the third floor.
The new 20,000 square foot clinic includes 25 exam rooms, one therapy room, two x-ray rooms and an expanded waiting room. It will accommodate a steady increase in clinical providers and staff as the Department of Family and Community Medicine has grown rapidly over the past five years, as well as rising patient volumes.
In fiscal year 2022, for example, the Highlands clinic, along with the department’s Hoover Family and Community Medicine clinic, saw 24,427 patient visits, compared with 14,336 in fiscal year 2019. This fiscal year, the two clinics are projected to see more than 33,000 patient visits.
The renovated Highlands clinic will offer more space for the department’s growing clinical programs, including practice-based research efforts focused on the prevention and management of chronic disease, nutrition and mental health services, women’s health services, point-of-care ultrasound, SWEEP and FLOW programs focused on exercise and performance optimization, an “Exercise is Medicine” partnership with the YMCA of Greater Birmingham, and a partnership with the Alabama Genomic Health Initiative.
Department leadership, faculty and staff, joined by UAB Medicine leadership, celebrated the new clinic with a ribbon cutting and reception on Monday morning. The clinic’s first patients arrived later that afternoon.
In remarks at the ribbon cutting, Chair Irfan Asif, M.D., also the associate dean for primary care and rural health and director of UAB’s primary care service line, called the opening “one of the pinnacles of the Department of Family and Community Medicine.”
“You can see that this is a commitment from UAB to grow primary care here in our institution, to address the primary care shortage that we see here in the state,” Asif said. “We certainly have a lot of work to do, so this is not the end, it is just the beginning. But if you take a look at our department and you see the trajectory of growth, in terms of our people and the patients we serve, we are on an exponential curve.”
Asif also praised the assembled clinical providers and staff for their dedication to excellent patient care.
“If you look at our patient satisfaction scores, you all get 95% scores or higher, which is amazing and one of the top in all of the institutions,” he said. “We will continue to serve patients using a multi-disciplinary approach, including nutrition, mental health, pharmacy, and working with our genomics team and our research team to continue to innovate.”
Noting the medical students in the room who are part of the department’s Comprehensive Urban Underserved and Rural Experience, or CU2RE, program, Asif also said the clinic will serve as an excellent training ground for new providers.
“We are also here to provide a place for the future workforce,” he said. “It is exciting to see students here and an honor to have them, as they will be the future generation of how we provide family and community medicine as well as primary care.”