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Giving healthcare and hope

Sometimes the people most in need of health care are the ones least able to afford it. In the late 1980s, members of Palmer’s Davenport Campus and West Campus recognized this and decided to do something about it.

The result was the introduction of “outreach clinics” that brought free chiropractic care directly to the Quad Cities and San Jose neighborhoods where underprivileged people lived. All chiropractic services were available at no cost to qualifying low-income people. And as with other Palmer Clinics, care was provided by dedicated faculty clinicians, interns and staff members.

Two decades later, these Outreach Clinics, along with the Florida Campus Outreach Clinic, are giving people with little or no money the chance to improve their health—and just as importantly—their lives.
Davenport Campus: Helping people on the streets turn a corner
man with cane enters clinic door

The Davenport Campus made its first foray into free health care for those in need in the mid-1980s, when it began offering free physicals to disadvantaged children, as well as abused women and their children. The program was initiated by Susan Larkin, D.C., Davenport ’83, who, along with other clinicians, recruited interns to perform the complimentary physicals. “It was done on the rationale that our students could serve as role models to these children,” said Dr. Larkin.

Anna Livdans-Forret, D.C., Davenport ’83, followed suit in 1987 by organizing free intern-administered physicals for underprivileged children who wanted to enroll in a summer camp just for them. But that program was about to evolve into something much bigger.

Bringing chiropractic care within reach

Months later, Clinic Director George Hess, D.C., Davenport ’78, told Dr. Livdans-Forret that he was asked to set up a complete chiropractic care initiative as soon as possible for the area’s poor. This was at the bequest of Davenport Campus administrator Doug Baker, D.C., Davenport ’70, who had envisioned such a program.

Dr. Livdans-Forret responded by volunteering to run the program herself. Before long, she’d found two Davenport Salvation Army locations willing to set aside space where Outreach Clinics teams could provide care a few hours each week.

“So I found a portable Tulle table that the Clinic had in storage, dusted it off, set up a sign for interns, collected forms and diagnostic equipment, packed my car and headed downtown,” Dr. Livdans- Forret recalled. “We were very well received at both clinics.”

According to Director of Community Clinics John Stites, D.C., Davenport ’79, “The purpose of the Outreach Clinics is to serve the underserved and those who can’t afford care.” He adds that the Outreach Clinics offer virtually the same care that patients at other Davenport Campus Clinics have access to, including adjustments, X-rays and rehabilitation.

A full-time commitment to care

In 1993, at the same time that Jeanne McWilliams, D.C., Davenport ’87, became the new leader of the Community Outreach program, she found a Salvation Army location in downtown Davenport that was willing to donate office space for the sole use of an Outreach Clinic.

Intern Sara Wendel, center, palpates a patient under the supervision of Dr. Jeanne McWilliams, at the Moline, Ill., location of the Davenport Campus Outreach Clinics.
Sara Wendel palpating patient

Today that location offers free chiropractic care eight hours a day, five days a week. The interns who provide this care are supervised by Davenport Campus graduates Karol Donaubauer, D.C., ’88, and John Mosby, D.C., ’76. To be eligible to intern at an Outreach Clinic, students must be in their 8th, 9th or 10th Trimester, with top priority given to those in their 10th Trimester.

“The service provided by us and our interns is a priceless contribution to the Quad Cities,” said Dr. Mosby. Likewise, he feels the program generates invaluable experience for its interns because they’re able to see “challenging spinal injuries and conditions that enhance their expertise prior to graduation.”

“It’s a very rewarding place to work,” said Dr. Mosby. “I look forward to coming to work every day!”

Success stories

Care at Davenport’s full-time Outreach Clinic is complemented by the services offered at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center on the north end of town, where an Outreach site clinic provides a few hours of care each week. A third Outreach Clinic is found across the river in downtown Moline, Ill., where Dr. McWilliams now works.

“Everyone deserves a chance to be their best and to have basic chiropractic care,” said Dr. McWilliams. “You may be the only doctor that these people have. I had an Outreach patient once who was previously a prostitute and a heroin addict,” said Dr. McWilliams. “She was also an alcoholic who got herself clean. She came to us from a homeless shelter and eventually got a job and bought her own house. Hers was an exciting success story.”

Rich in gratitude

Mary Frost, D.C., Davenport ’96, who works alongside Dr. McWilliams, also regularly sees patients who have addiction issues or have spent time in jail.

“One patient told us that chiropractic had saved her life,” said Dr. Frost. “This patient has led a poverty-stricken life and has lived through things that most of us could not imagine. She said that our chiropractic services have kept her going when she was in tremendous pain.”

“Outreach patients also have more complications due to their lifestyle and lack of finances,” she said. “But these differences also make them very grateful for the care they receive.”

West Campus: In touch with the community since 1988

The system of Outreach Clinics in Santa Clara County has been an integral part of the West Campus intern experience for more than two decades.

Established in 1988, in large part due to the efforts of West Campus alumna Cheryl (Uhri) Davis, D.C., ’87, the Outreach Clinics were introduced at local facilities managed by social agencies serving single mothers, the homeless and individuals battling substance abuse addictions.

A social safety network

The current network of Outreach Clinics is open a total of 30 hours per week, with individual clinics based at locations managed by the Emergency Housing Consortium (EHC), the Salvation Army and the Ecumenical Association of Housing (EAH).

While the program recently concluded its association with CityTeam Ministries, it is now in the process of establishing a site clinic at another EAH location at Borregas Court Apartments in Sunnyvale, Calif. Borregas Court is a low-income housing complex with a diverse population. Another EAH site, Parkview Apartments, serves low-income senior residents.

“The Outreach Clinic provides a great avenue for interns to gain additional clinic experience while earning credits toward graduation,” said West Campus Dean of Clinics Greg Snow, D.C., West ’90.

Interns are assigned Outreach Clinic rotations during their 11th and 12th quarters. They serve at least two rotations—six weeks during their 11th Quarter and three weeks during their 12th Quarter.

Altogether, the Outreach Clinics system accounts for approximately 35 percent of West Campus patient care services. Since 1993, interns at these clinics have performed approximately 10,000 physical exams and assisted with nearly 120,000 patient visits.

While the equipment and administrative costs to manage the Outreach Clinics are paid for by Palmer College from its Clinic budget, patient care space is provided free of charge to the residents of the respective facilities.

Seeing the program’s benefits firsthand
Dr. André KnustGraichen, left, oversees intern Jacob Harris setting up to perform a thoracic adjustment on a patient at one of the Emergency Housing Consortium sites of the West Campus Outreach Clinics program.
Dr. Andre KnustGraichen watches Jacob Harris

Dr. André KnustGraichen, West ’84, has been a part of the Outreach program almost from the beginning. He serves as the primary clinician at four of the five Outreach Clinic sites. Michael Dominguez, D.C., West ’89, is the clinician at the other site.

“It’s quite gratifying to help the patients through chiropractic care, and, at the same time, contribute to the intern’s education of what it means to be a chiropractor,” he said. “Every day I’m at one of the clinics, I see the benefits of what we do. Patients are very happy with their care, and they tell us so daily.”

“Al,” for example, is a 20-year military veteran and a resident of an EHC-administered facility that provides transitional housing for low-income residents and those with physical disabilities.

“I jumped out of a lot of airplanes, which has resulted in me having two knee replacement surgeries,” Al said. “Chiropractic care helps me with all my service injuries, especially my shoulders. The Palmer people have been fantastic. It’s been a Godsend to have them here.”

Katrina Poitras, property manager at the site where the second West Campus EHC Outreach Clinic is based, echoed Al’s sentiments. “Having Palmer come out here is a great health benefit for our residents,” she said. “It provides them with access to services they otherwise wouldn’t have, due to financial or transportation challenges, or both.”

Meaningful services

Interns enjoy their rounds through the Outreach program for the opportunity to enhance their clinical skills while also making a difference in the quality of life of the less fortunate members of Silicon Valley, many of whom have no other avenue of health care.

“Participating in Palmer’s Outreach program opened doors to a variety of cases I would otherwise never see in the Clinic,” said Michael Pound, D.C., West ’09, who recently served as an intern in the program. “The patients were always so happy to see us and I could tell that our services meant a lot to them.”

Florida Campus: Continuing to serve those in need

The first Outreach Clinic in Florida opened in 2004 but was destroyed by a Christmas Day tornado in 2006. The new, more modern Clinic is located in South Daytona, Fla., about five miles from the campus, and is open 30 hours a week to provide chiropractic care to those who cannot afford it.

A different type of referral

Patients at the Florida Campus Outreach Clinic aren’t referred there by doctors but by churches, United Way agencies and the Fresh Start program at Daytona State College.

Early on, Palmer’s Florida Campus established a relationship with Serenity House, an adult substance abuse treatment facility, and continues to serve their clients in space donated by Serenity House at two locations in DeLand. In fact, the idea for opening the first Outreach Clinic was to focus on treating those in alcohol and drug recovery.

Dr. L. Sally Bobo and 11th Quarter student Nicolle Schultze discuss a patient’s management plan inside the Florida Campus Outreach Clinic.
Dr. Sally Bobo looking at charts with Nicole Schultze

The program is overseen by Director of Clinics Albert Luce, D.C., and managed by Faculty Clinician L. Sally Bobo, D.C., who provides patient care and supervision of student interns.

“It has always been my dream to run a free clinic and Palmer has allowed me to do this,” said Dr. Bobo, who is at the Outreach Clinic on a full-time basis. Trent Hagen, D.C., Davenport ’82, a clinician on the Florida Campus, also provides care and supervision at the South Daytona clinic. Assisted by Mario Gonzalez and Jade Marco, the Outreach Clinic is always busy.

Dr. Bobo sees no difference between patients of the Outreach Clinic and those at Palmer’s other outpatient clinic, “other than income and the fact that for many of our patients, we become their primary healthcare provider.” She finds inspiration from her patients and students.

A lifesaver

“Several patients have told me that they could not live without coming here,” Dr. Bobo said. She sees patients’ lives improved by the care provided, which enables them to get a job or to keep on working because chiropractic care eases their pain.

Upper quarter interns get the first opportunity to work in the Outreach Clinic. Otherwise, the process is the same as at the other clinics. “I hope it instills a sense of giving to others who are less fortunate, and they carry this into their practices and careers,” added Dr. Bobo.

Faster recovery

Dr. Bobo specializes in the care of patients who are in rehabilitation for drug and alcohol abuse who say that receiving care helps them to stay sober. “Those clients seem to do much better in their recovery. I think it’s because we now know through new research that there is more limbic tissue in the spinal cord than in the brain,” she said, since limbic tissue is part of an overall system that is activated by certain behaviors.

As for how alumni may help, Dr. Bobo suggests that any donations made to the program be for specific equipment. She also hopes that they will understand the rewards that come from doing something for others and not just for the monetary reward. “The patients that we serve develop a relationship with the Clinic and our staff and rely upon these services to get through life. What better reward is there?”

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