As new health care laws were passed, it became increasingly difficult for individuals to get their physical therapy treatments covered by their insurance. To combat this, CMU opened Hands for Health, a student-run physical therapy clinic dedicated to providing treatment to underinsured or uninsured individuals in the Mount Pleasant community.
“Having this clinic allows people who don’t have the coverage or the money to afford the care they need, to have the opportunity to manage their pain so they can function and get back to doing the activities they enjoy,” said Grace Blankenhagen, student volunteer and scheduling coordinator at the clinic.
On top of that, the clinic is almost entirely run by doctoral physical therapy students, under the supervision of licensed physical therapists. This allows students to get hands-on experience with patients before they even graduate.
“By volunteering in the clinic, I have improved my communication, organization and clinical skills tremendously. I also enjoy being able to work with patients from the community. Working with them breaks up the “perfect” textbook cases we get in class and introduces real-world situations,” Grace said.
Students at the clinic work with a variety of patients from the community, allowing them to learn valuable skills such as patient interaction, physical therapy techniques and other clinical skills that will serve them well in their future careers.
“Providing necessary physical therapy services to individuals that do not have insurance, have exhausted PT benefits or are considered underinsured, can be very rewarding. It is certainly a means for the students, the PT program and me to give back to the community and provide a needed service,” said John Andraka, director of the Hands for Health Clinic.
The Hands for Health Clinic is open Mondays from 5 to 7 p.m.
The clinic has been providing physical therapy treatment to the underinsured since 1998.
Doctoral physical therapy students volunteer in the clinic in various roles, from working with patients to scheduling appointments.
The current student volunteer staff at the clinic is all female.