SAN ANTONIO – The $45 million Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas, or The MAC, which constitutes a revolutionary new approach to helping solve medical, therapeutic and social-determinants-of-health (SDoH) issues faced by those with special needs, will officially debut Sunday, Oct. 2, in special ceremonies open to the public.
Gordon Hartman, founder of world-renowned Morgan’s Wonderland theme park and multiple other ventures to help the special-needs community, made the announcement today at a special news media preview.
Special guest speaker during the Oct. 2 festivities from 1 to 5 p.m. at The MAC will be award-winning TV and movie actor Joe Mantegna, an advocate for children and adults with special needs. With more than 200 TV and movie appearances to his credit, he’s probably best known for his role as Joey Zasa in “The Godfather: Part III” and his current role as Special Agent David Rossi in the hit TV series “Criminal Minds.”
Located at Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive (5210 Thousand Oaks) within walking distance of Ultra-Accessible™, fully-inclusive Morgan’s Wonderland, The MAC brings together more than 30 community-based organizations under one roof, Hartman explained. Its innovative, one-stop MAC Care Model™ enables individuals with cognitive and physical special needs to get the life-improving assistance they need in one location.
Hartman noted that “knowledge gained by Morgan’s Wonderland staff through countless interactions with individuals with special needs led to the creation of The MAC,” which is headquartered in a newly-constructed, multi-story, 165,000-square-foot building near IH 35 in Northeast San Antonio. It’s the latest venture of Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative.
When The MAC becomes operational in October, specially-educated Navigators will guide clients, or MAC Members, to providers that can help them as well as track progress via The MAC Navigation System™ electronic platform, said Allan Castro, MAC CEO. This method of providing services in a coordinated manner will establish a new standard of care, not only in San Antonio but across the nation as well as internationally.
“All too often, individuals with special needs get fragmented, uncoordinated health and social services from providers spread out all over the community,” Castro added. “They often feel they do not have the support or knowledge needed to identify and navigate through their services options. As a result, they become overwhelmed by the complexities facing them and sometimes fall through the cracks. Many eventually give up. When this happens, instead of improving their health and quality of life, they regress or remain in limbo.”
Services at The MAC focus on the social determinants of health such as the availability of food and transportation as well as barriers to empowerment that result from income status, education level, etc. Studies have shown that up to 70% of an individual’s health status depends on SDoH and behavioral factors, Castro noted. The MAC’s approach looks at the individual and family holistically and strives to keep them healthy and equipped with tools for achieving a better quality of life.
“No single organization can address the broad range of services required by individuals with special needs,” Castro said. “Thus, the whole community of service providers has banded together at The MAC into a collective-impact model where collaboration makes it easier for those with special needs to receive services. Bringing together more than 30 community-based organizations means greater synergy, greater attention to SDoH and greater follow-through for better care. The MAC staff believes measuring and reporting progress are key to assessing effectiveness and making future improvements to benefit MAC Members. The UTSA Evaluation and Research Coordinating Center will oversee this vital function.”
Organizations collaborating at The MAC, also known as MACers, are:
- Center for Health Care Services (CHCS)
- Children’s Hospital of San Antonio (CHOSA)
- Communicare Health Centers
- Community First Health Plans
- Our Lady of the Lake University Speech-Language-Hearing Center
- Sponsel Eye Experts
- Happy Ohana Smiles Dental Clinic
- Guide Dogs of Texas Inc.
- Blue-Sprig Pediatrics
- San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind & Vision Impaired
Community Support Services
- Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG)
- Any Baby Can of San Antonio Inc. (ABC)
- Epilepsy Foundation of Central & South Texas
- Project Angel Fares
- Our Lady of the Lake University – Worden School of Social Services
- Reaching Maximum Independence
- San Antonio Food Bank
- The Arc of San Antonio
- Mary’s University Law School – Center for Legal and Social Justice
- Project Access
- Via Metropolitan Transit
- University of Texas at San Antonio – Evaluation and Research Coordinating Center
- San Antonio Housing Authority
- Life Skills for Living
- Practice Without Pressure
- United Healthcare
- San Antonio Legal Services Association (SALSA)
- The Packard Law Firm
- Disability Rights
- Judge Veronica Vasquez, Bexar County Probate Court #2.
Special features at The MAC include extra-wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, sound-absorbing floors and wall panels for a kinder acoustic atmosphere, pink noise to reduce distractions during consultations, family restrooms with adult-changing stations and showers, a mother’s nursing lounge, a service animal area, a café that will serve H-E-B Meals Simple foods, a hair and nail salon and an employment center.
More information about The MAC can be found at www.MorgansWonderlandMAC.com.
The MAC is the newest addition to Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative, the nonprofit, umbrella organization that coordinates planning, fundraising and communications among the Morgan’s Wonderland “family” of ventures designed with those with special needs in mind and built for everyone’s benefit, said Dr. Brent Fields, Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative president and CEO. These include world-famous Morgan’s Wonderland, award-winning Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park, Morgan’s Wonderland Sports complex and Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, offering a summer-camp-type experience year-round. Because of these and similar inclusive endeavors to help children and adults with special needs, the City Council in 2015 proclaimed San Antonio as “Inclusion City, USA.”
Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative grew out of the tremendous success of Morgan’s Wonderland, Dr. Fields said. When the park opened in spring 2010, no one could have predicted the phenomenal growth and impact of this unique creation of San Antonio philanthropists Gordon and Maggie Hartman. In all their endeavors, the Hartmans credit daughter Morgan, who’s dealt with special needs since birth, as the inspiration for their passion and generosity.
Ultra-Accessible™ refers to removing both physical and economic barriers that confront children and adults with special needs. This means that those with and without special needs can come together in a fully-inclusive environment for fun and a better understanding of one another.