The Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) Community Rehabilitation Clinic (CRC) opened in October of 2014 in Provo, Utah. The purpose of the clinic is to provide physical therapy care to uninsured or underinsured, low-income families and individuals in Utah County. There are several medical clinics in the community with similar missions; however, the RMUoHP CRC is the only clinic that provides physical therapy and rehabilitation services. The CRC also works as a complement to other reduced-fee medical clinics and medical providers.
Many, if not the majority of, patient problems can be solved in physical therapy, without surgery or addictive pain medications. In the cases where surgery is appropriate for a patient, physical therapy is key to a successful recovery, and a surgeon is much more likely to perform the surgery knowing the patient has a place to go for post-surgical rehab.
“The CRC has had an awesome impact on the community. It has a become an excellent referral source for physicians with low-income patients and for medical providers serving at the seven reduced-fee medical clinics in Utah County. The Mountainlands Family Health Center is one of these clinics, and in 2017 alone, Mountainlands referred 434 patients to the CRC for treatment.”
– Colby Clawson, DPT, CSCS
CRC Clinic Director
Colby Clawson, DPT, CSCS, and alumnus of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, has been the clinic director since December of 2014. Dr. Clawson explains that the inspiration for the CRC was service. He states, “Service is one of the core values of RMUoHP, and the CRC reflects our commitment to this core value. Most importantly, patients receive high-quality care, and students and volunteers are provided with meaningful service experience.”
At the CRC, current students from the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at RMUoHP are welcome and encouraged to participate in volunteer work. “RMUoHP DPT students can gain problem-solving skills and hands-on experience by working in the clinic. Additionally, they are exposed to real-life healthcare disparities, which helps to foster a spirit of compassion and service for those who need it most,” Dr. Clawson says.
RMUoHP students shadow in the clinic and help with clinic operations. During the third semester of the program, DPT students can enroll in a one-credit service-learning course where they can get hands-on experience evaluating and treating patients under the director of Dr. Clawson.
In addition to student volunteers, RMUoHP faculty are also able to donate time to treat patients at the CRC. Along with having a full schedule of experienced volunteers to help assist in the clinic, the CRC provides high-quality care for patients using the most up-to-date technology. Dr. Clawson says, ” The clinic uses software called FOTO (Focus On Therapeutic Outcomes) to track clinic efficiency and patient outcomes. This software tracks millions of patient encounters from over 3,400 clinics. In 2017, our data showed that our patients achieve better health outcomes than the national average. What’s more encouraging is that our patients achieved these outcomes in an average of 8 visits, compared with the national average of 11.5.”
Thanks to generous support from the community, the CRC is now open Mondays through Fridays from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Patients have to meet certain criteria for attending the clinic, including low-income status, uninsured, underinsured, or they have exhausted all of their physical therapy benefits on their insurance in addition to being low-income. Dr. Clawson states, “We treat a variety of musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. These specific conditions include, but are not limited to, patients with muscle, nerve, or joint pain; movement disorders; balance problems; muscle weakness; multiple sclerosis; post-stroke; chronic pain syndromes; amputees; and patients in need of electrodiagnostic testing procedures.”
Dr. Clawson adds, “We hope to raise awareness of the clinic so that low-income patients and their providers know that it is a resource to help them. We also hope to expand our DPT student involvement in the clinic and make the clinic financially sustainable. Our main goals are to reduce the physical and financial burdens of low-income families in Utah County. We also hope to inspire a spirit of service in the university and among other medical providers in the community and to provide a rich educational experience to volunteers and students who serve in the CRC.”