Alumni ProfileSteve Foster and Ron RichardsonBy Cary Estes
TherapySouth is all about community. That is reflected in the outpatient physical-therapy practice’s slogan, “Hands-on care, close to home.” And for quite a few of the employees at TherapySouth, their college home is UAB. Co-founders Steve Foster and Ron Richardson are both graduates of the School of Health Professions, and 14 other UAB graduates work for the company as physical therapists.
So in order to strengthen that connection to their home school, TherapySouth recently began sponsoring a scholarship for second-year physical therapy students at UAB. It is a way for the company to offer thanks to the university that helped so many of them get their start in the profession. “We’re very grateful for our success, and we’re always looking for ways to give back to the community,” says Foster, a 1980 graduate of UAB. “We contribute to food banks and have toy drives at Christmas. There are a lot of different things we’ve been able to support through our practice. Since a large number of us graduated from UAB, we felt like it would be a good expression of our gratitude to UAB to sponsor a scholarship for a student who had financial need and has excelled academically. We want other students to have the financial support they need.”
TherapySouth began in 2006 with a single clinic in Vestavia Hills. It has quickly expanded to 11 clinics, with the opening in January of the newest office in Liberty Park. Nine of the clinics are in the Birmingham area, one is in Pell City, and another is in Talladega.
Foster says having clinics scattered throughout the greater Birmingham area has been a key to TherapySouth’s success. “Instead of having one large clinic in the center of town, our clinics are out in the communities, and that makes it easier for people,” Foster says. “We figured if we make it convenient for people and give quality care, that will set us apart from some of the larger corporate entities that ask people to drive great distances to get to them. And since we’re in the communities, we get to know the mayors and city councilors and
business owners. It gets us involved in the community, which gives us opportunities to give back through some charitable things.”
In addition, Richardson says the proximity to the patients also leads to better physicaltherapy results. “People can go to the clinic that is most convenient for them, and they tend to be more compliant with their therapy if it’s near where their home or work is located,” says Richardson, a 1974 UAB graduate who operates the clinics in Hoover and Bessemer-McCalla.
Foster and Richardson were partners in a previous practice for 13 years before selling it to a national corporation. They remained with the corporation for another eight years,
but both say they missed the personal relationships they established. “Physical therapy patients deserve and need that one-on-one attention,” Richardson says. “When patients come to us they will immediately see a physical therapist, and most of the time they will continue seeing the same physical therapist. It makes the continuity of care for that patient consistent
throughout the entire rehabilitation process. We’ve built our reputation through communicating with the doctors about their patients, and then following through with one-on-one, hands-on care.”