group picture of HDI staff members serving on panel presentation

Addressing Ableism in Anesthesiology to Support Diverse Patients with Disabilities

Practitioners working in the UK Healthcare Department of Anestheshiology believe it is crucial to recognize and dismantle ableism—the discriminatory attitudes and practices against people with disabilities. In March, staff from the UK Human Development Institute (HDI) were invited to participate in a panel presentation to foster awareness and promote change by addressing ableism within medical education and clinical practice.

The following staff from HDI participated in the panel to promote and support a more equitable healthcare system through the integration of disability awareness and anti-ableism principles.

Tony LoBianco, PhD is the Director and Principal Investigator of the Kentucky Post School Outcome Center (KyPSO) and Research Analyst at the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute (HDI). Dr. LoBianco has an extensive background in research methods and evaluation with advanced degrees in political science and public health. He is a member of the Kentucky Congress on Spinal Cord Injury. He was a past recipient of the Carol S. Adelstein Award (leadership and academic excellence for student with disability at UK), and the Paul Kevin Burberry Award (advocacy for persons with disabilities). He has been a member of the Statewide Council for Vocational Rehabilitation, and currently is a member of the Kentucky Interagency Transition Council, the Underserved Populations Engagement Committee (part of HDI). Dr. LoBianco is a frequent lecturer throughout the University on disability, postschool outcomes and research methods. Dr. LoBianco is a quadriplegic due to a Spinal Cord Injury that occurred in 1991.

Nicholas Lamar Wright, PhD is a champion of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, & accessibility. He is a nationally recognized, award-winning higher education leader, scholar, and practitioner who excels at making connections and building inclusive cultures. Dr. Wright serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion for the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Wright identifies as a multiracial (Black/White) man with a traumatic brain injury, who graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor of Science, Master’s in Education, and Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling and Personnel Services, specializing in College Student Personnel.

Austin Nugent is a Disability Program Administrator at the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute (HDI). She has a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in disability policy and serves on numerous state and national boards. Through her various roles, Austin supports multi-system change that advances disability, access, and inclusion. As a result of her personal and family experiences with disability, Austin is familiar with the healthcare system, including the barriers people with disabilities and their support networks face in navigating healthcare.

Courtney Elbert is the Medical and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky (DSACK). Courtney earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education from Bellarmine University. After teaching English and coaching soccer at Assumption High School in Louisville and being Coordinator of Bellarmine’s Low Ropes Challenge Course, Courtney earned a Fellowship at the University of Kentucky, where she earned her Master of Science in Educational Policy Studies with an Emphasis in Student Affairs. Over the years, Courtney has served as Assistant Dean/Director of Student Activities at Bellarmine University and in various volunteer roles within DSACK and the community. Courtney and her husband have 4 children, ages 21, 19, 17 and 10. Their son Sam has Down syndrome.

Morgan Turner is a Program Education Assistant at HDI. He also serves as a Special Olympics athlete, athlete ambassador, and health messenger. Mr. Turner is a strong self-advocate who has both cognitive and physical disabilities, he was born with hydrocephalus, abnormal legs and left hand. He works across multiple projects at UK-HDI focusing on health, inclusion, leadership, employment, and supported decision making. Mr. Turner was invited to participate in the national Special Olympics Inclusive Health Work Group. Mr. Turner is an expert peer health educator and has co-facilitated numerous inclusive health promotion programs. Morgan is quite familiar with anesthesiology, as he has had many surgeries in his life, including having a new shunt placed into his brain.

Moderated by Lindsey Mullis is the Inclusive Health & Wellness Director for the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute working to promote inclusive health for people with disabilities and the communities that serve them. Ms. Mullis is a certified Health Promotion Clinical Director for Special Olympics and an expert in applying universal design strategies to health programs and services. She has over 15 years experience working in the disability community. Ms. Mullis is also a strong parent advocate for her daughter with Down syndrome and a vision disability.