In a breakfast event on Nov. 8, Dr. Carol Maritz's efforts in the community for her Pro Bono Clinic earned a bronze award in the Health Improvement category by the Philadelphia Business Journal for the 2012 Health Care Innovation Awards
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For the past 10 years, Dr. Carol Maritz
, associate professor and vice chair in the physical therapy program
at University of the Sciences
, has spearheaded an innovative, interdisciplinary, and multi-institutional collaboration to provide access to physical therapy services for the uninsured and underinsured in Philadelphia. Through the Pro Bono Clinic, Dr. Maritz and USciences’ PT faculty and students have made a far reaching impact on the lives of patients.
On behalf of the impactful work performed at the Pro Bono Clinic, Dr. Maritz is being recognized as recipient of the Health Improvement Award by the Philadelphia Business Journal and the presenting sponsor UnitedHealthcare at the Health Care Innovation Awards on Thursday, Nov. 8. At the breakfast ceremony, she will find out if she is given the top recognition from among the four individuals in that category. The Health Improvement Award recognizes a program, project, or initiative designed to improve the health status of residents in the region.
The Pro Bono Clinic is a partnership among University of the Sciences, Mercy Philadelphia Hospital (MPH), the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), and graduate PT programs in the Philadelphia area. The patients are referred from city health centers, local physicians, and MPH for direct hands-on PT treatments that they otherwise would not receive. Prior to the creation of the clinic, these patients did not have access to outpatient physical therapy services due to lack of health insurance.
“The Pro Bono Clinic provides a valuable service to the community and benefits our students greatly. We are seeing patients from all over the city including those who are underserved by their health insurance or just do not have insurance,” said Dr. Maritz, who noted that the clinic is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. “Patients recognize that students are learning and in return they receive a greater amount of attention because two or three students can work with one patient.”
The results have profoundly affected patients who report improvement in their quality of life: an earlier return to work or the ability to continue with work while receiving therapy services, increased independence at home, decreased pain, and overall improvement in mobility and function. The center has provided over 10,000 encounters to nearly 1,300 uninsured patients since 2002, with 2,600 of those visits coming in the last two years.
Perhaps most importantly, the clinic has engaged students in its operations and, by doing so, has instilled a sense of community service and commitment to the current and future operations of the clinic. This graduate student workforce is a unique and essential element of the Pro Bono Clinic. Over 700 students from the USciences PT program have been involved with the clinic since its inception in 2002. The students benefit by receiving valuable hands-on training which teaches them skills they can’t learn in the classroom.