Boundless Health is breaking down healthcare barriers for people with disabilities

Jess Deyo
Columbus CEO
Boundless Director of Clinical Operations Anna Wuerth, left, and Medical Director Dr. Cindy Ripsin.

Over the nearly six years that CEO Patrick Maynard has been with nonprofit Boundless, he’s heard the same story shared by the patients who have come through his doors: Doctors are refusing to see them because of their disability, they are “too challenging,” or they would be better off going elsewhere.

People with developmental and intellectual disabilities routinely face barriers when accessing medical care, and while Maynard offered a listening ear to his clients, for years he has been working on a solution that has finally come to fruition: Boundless Health.

Boundless Health, launched this October, offers primary care, behavioral health services and specialty services like gynecology and dietetics from the nonprofit’s Worthington campus. It also partnered with Ohio State University’s Nisonger Center to provide dental care.

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The health sector coincides with the services offered by Boundless, which includes residential services, employment support and more for the special needs community.

Boundless is the culmination of four linked companies: I am Boundless, Boundless Community Pathways, the Boundless Foundation, and now, Boundless Health. Founded in 1980, Boundless has grown to include six campuses in Ohio with an annual budget of $93 million. Currently, it serves 4,000 people and has 2,400 employees.

“As we grew, our focus was to go from being a single line service provider to really looking at the whole person,” Maynard says. “People with disabilities and complex needs are like everybody else, they’re not just a person with a disability.”

With the new health sector, Boundless will be the first of its kind in Ohio to deliver whole-person services, and one of few in the country, Maynard says. It’s also applying to become a federally qualified healthcare center (FQHC), which would allow for an on-site pharmacy.

While it’s focus is the disabled community, Boundless Health will also serve low-income communities. Medicaid and other insurances cover about 95 percent of its services, Maynard says, and a sliding fee scale will help the uninsured.

“These are things that are really going to make a big difference, because they’re going to be unique to this population,” says Maynard.

Boundless Health comes at a critical time—people with disabilities or complex needs currently live up to 16 years less than the general population and are hospitalized 1.7 times more, according to consulting firm Health Management Associates.

Boundless Director of Clinical Operations Anna Wuerth.

A key player at Boundless Health is its executive director and vice president of clinical operations, Anna Wuerth, who joined the team this June and comes with 15 years of experience at a FQHC. Her favorite aspect is hearing from the community to help create a perfect business model, she says.

Some must-haves include the ability to see every member of the family for convenience, and providing calming areas and quick waits before appointments and flexibility around changes. Having primary care and behavioral health under one roof also allows for every doctor to be able to collaborate with one another, she says.

Boundless Medical Director Dr. Cindy Ripsin.

Leading the medical efforts is Dr. Cindy Ripsin, the team’s medical director, who comes with over 20 years of experience as a family doctor. Previously, she was the medical director for a hospital in Galveston, Texas, with about 13,000 patients from underserved communities.

Ripsin’s interest in Boundless Health comes from her start-up mindset and experience working for the underserved, where she noticed many patients who would be considered on the Autism spectrum but weren’t diagnosed.

“I often thought it would be such a perfect model to be able to really identify folks early, give them the health care that they need, and make sure that they can lead their best life,” Ripsin says.

Boundless Health currently has 30 employees but will be hiring more.

In the next five years, Ripsin and her team hope to perfect their model and expand to other communities in need, but for now, she hopes to connect with the Columbus community, starting with a simple introduction:

“I want people to see me as who I am,” Ripsin says, “which is someone with humility that is really willing to serve them and their family.”

@DeyoJessica

jdeyo@dispatch.com    

Boundless

iamboundless.org

Locations: Six campuses serving over 50 counties statewide.

Mission: To provide quality, whole-person services for children, youth and adults with special needs.

President and CEO: Patrick Maynard

Employees: 2,400

Funding Sources: Medicaid 81%, government funding 11%, other 6%, private 2%