College of Public Health (CPH) students, faculty and alumni realized a long-held dream in opening the North Broad Physical Therapy Center, a pro bono student-run clinic for residents of North Philadelphia.
Underscoring Temple’s commitment to addressing critical health care gaps facing low-income communities, the clinic will serve uninsured and underinsured residents of all ages.
Guided by licensed physical therapists, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students will offer therapy for musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, vestibular and cardiopulmonary system dysfunctions. Students from other areas of Temple, including the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, will come together to evaluate and treat patients in the community.
The clinic’s grand opening was a celebration for the students and alumni that will play an integral role in its success. Calling the clinic an “interprofessional, interdisciplinary team of healthcare providers,” CPH Dean Laura A. Siminoff thanked the alumni that made the project possible and praised Mary Sinnott, an associate professor of physical therapy, calling her a “tireless advocate” for the clinic.
Sinnott remembers the idea first surfacing 15 years ago. Making it happen now, according to Sinnott, was the result of having a President with a strong commitment to the community, students who were ready to act and a new Dean that supported the idea.
It was a “perfect storm” according to Kara Jackson, a third year DPT student who helped spearhead the endeavor. Capitalizing on the enthusiasm of her fellow students, Jackson said she hoped the clinic would become a true resource for the community. “We really want to gain the community’s trust and let them know we are here for them.”
By setting up the clinic, and managing it, the students are also learning how to run a business. Each person in the seven person team has a role to fill that includes marketing the clinic, outcomes assessment, client advocacy, operations and alumni outreach. Having students from each program year represented in managing the clinic ensures that knowledge is not lost.
Temple University President Neil D. Theobald who was there for the grand opening thanked the students for their efforts, pledging his continued support for the venture moving forward. “Clearly healthcare is a way we can reach out and meet the needs of our neighbors and community members.”
The clinic received a huge amount of support from alumni, who donated equipment and funds. And, now many will also donate their time. Alumna Jasmine Jackson ‘13, remembers the plans for the clinic when she was a student and has already signed up to volunteer.
"So many of the patients I see have had strokes, brain injuries or some type or progressive neurological disease and they don’t have the resources to continue physical therapy with me. Knowing this is now an option for people like that is awesome,” she said.
The center, located on the third floor of Jones Hall will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.