CU PT Celebrates 20 Years at Stout Street ClinicCU Physical Therapy May 5, 2019
“It was a slow start and getting everything in motion took some time,” Rodriguez reflected. “Once it became apparent how great the need was, everything really started to open up.” Over the years, referrals have expanded from Dr. Reichhardt to any medical provider at the Stout Street Clinic; and include a variety of patients with need for physical therapy.
20 years later, the University of Colorado Physical Therapy Program is still actively participating with the Stout Street Clinic, embracing the value it offers the community and students, as well as looking into the future of the relationship.
The Stout Street Clinic, located in downtown Denver, is operated by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and provides services for approximately 6,000 persons who are homeless each year. In addition to physical therapy, patients are seen for medical and dental care, mental health, substance abuse and social services among others.
Described as a student run clinic with faculty oversight, current DPT students volunteer monthly at Stout Street with Rodriguez and recently retired faculty member Betti Krapfl, who serve as preceptors.
The experience at Stout is very learner-centered, focused on guiding students into listening to the patient’s story, selecting appropriate tests and measures when evaluating a patient, as well as prioritizing what interventions to provide.
“The reality is that a number of these patients may only come into the clinic once,” said Rodriguez. “Even for returning patients, treatment only once a month justifies the necessity of prioritizing.”
Jared Knappe, Class of 2018, started volunteering at the clinic in 2016 and is currently a scheduling coordinator. Knappe stated, “Stout is an amazing opportunity to apply curriculum in a service learning setting.”
Clinical Education is a core component of CU’s DPT program, yet service opportunities such as Stout and the DAWN Clinic offer varying experiences. “In clinic, we’re typically working with a full caseload and honing our procedural skills and ability to be efficient,” noted Knappe. “Stout Street Clinic often challenges your creativity due to the complexity of patient needs and lack of resources available to patients, fostering clinical reasoning through individual experiences.”
With the population served often having chronic pain, work-related injuries and psycho-social challenges, students must actively listen while also educating patients and addressing concerns on any fear or anxiety of movement.
“These are real individuals with difficult circumstances,” said Knappe. “For someone who is homeless, carrying around heavy bags on their shoulders all day is their reality, but it’s our job to actively listen, educate them for purposes of alleviating anxiety or concerns and problem-solve for solutions realistic to their settings.”
“The need is incredibly high,” said Rodriguez. "We are excited that faculty and students from Regis University are planning to offer PT services on a second day per month. This could potentially double access to PT services, increasing the number of individuals who can receive physical therapy and enhancing continuity of care for those currently being seen. Looking to the future it would be great to analyze how we can maximize what we’re doing with the current resources we have.”
Thanks to the commitment of Fran, this community effort has become a fundamental aspect of the CU Physical Therapy Program and is expected to continue on for years to come.