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Pro-bono physical therapy clinic helps Siouxland’s uninsured, underinsured

Photo courtesy Sioux City Journal

Briar Cliff physical therapy students examine a patient who suffered a stroke at the University's pro-bono clinic, located at the Mayfair Center in Sioux City.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Kelly Taylor laid on a gray, leather exam table while Briar Cliff University physical therapy student Sara Panek touched the bottom of his right foot with a monofilament, a small tool applied to the skin to assess sensation.

"Can you feel anything?" she asked.

"No," he responded.

Taylor, 60, of South Sioux City, suffered a stroke eight years ago. His daughter, Kandace Burton, who is a student in Briar Cliff's physical therapy* program, said the right side of his body is basically paralyzed as a result. She said she brought her father to the pro bono clinic staffed by Briar Cliff physical therapy students to help manage his pain.

[Physical therapy] is a huge expense for somebody who's very burdened by those financial concerns ... I'm really glad we're able to offer this.

— Heidi Nelson, director of clinical education, Briar Cliff DPT* program

"It's a huge expense for somebody who's very burdened by those financial concerns," she said. "I'm really glad we're able to offer this."

"His physical therapy, especially after eight years, is limited," she said.

The patients Briar Cliff University's pro bono physical therapy clinic serves have no insurance or they've used up the number of physical therapy sessions authorized by their insurer and can't afford to pay for additional visits out of pocket.

An hour-long evaluation can cost anywhere from $180 to $360 at most physical therapy clinics, according to Heidi Nelson, director of clinical education for Briar Cliff's doctor of physical therapy* program, which is currently in candidacy status. She said patients can easily rack up $2,000 in bills after just six weeks of ongoing treatment.

"It's a huge expense for somebody who's very burdened by those financial concerns," she said. "I'm really glad we're able to offer this."

Patients don't need a physician's referral to be seen by Briar Cliff students, who can offer physical therapy for a variety of conditions from stroke to back pain to hip issues. They work under the direction of faculty members who specialize in areas such as pediatrics and neurological impairment.

In a spacious treatment room at Briar Cliff University at Mayfair campus, 4280 Sergeant Road, students work in teams of two. They see patients from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"I think it's an awesome opportunity for us," said physical therapy student Jordan Huffman, of Sergeant Bluff. "We get our feet wet a little bit."

Read the entire Sioux City Journal article →


*Effective April 29, 2015, the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Briar Cliff University has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314; phone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org). Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates that the program is progressing toward accreditation and may matriculate students in technical/professional courses. Candidate for Accreditation is not an accreditation status nor does it assure eventual accreditation.



Tags: Academics, Admissions, CHCI, BCU, Graduate Programs, DPT