YSU-Free Clinic partnership: ‘A huge opportunity’ to serve

Cara Carramusa, instructor of Physical Therapy, looks on as student Ben Vetch takes the blood pressure of a patient at the Midlothian Free Health Clinic in First Presbyterian Church on Wick Avenue.

Cara Carramusa, instructor of Physical Therapy, looks on as student Ben Vetch takes the blood pressure of a patient at the Midlothian Free Health Clinic in First Presbyterian Church on Wick Avenue.

The Midlothian Free Health Clinic has relocated to quarters on Wick Avenue bordering the YSU campus, creating new partnerships and service opportunities for YSU students and faculty alike.

“The stars and the moon and everything else aligned to allow this to happen,” said Nancy Landgraff, professor and chair of YSU’s Department of Physical Therapy, describing the series of events that resulted in the move. “This is a huge opportunity to provide practical experience for our students.”

Now headquartered on the lower level of First Presbyterian Church, 201 Wick Ave., the clinic offers free primary, preventative and educational health care to low-income uninsured and underinsured patients. YSU Nursing students are working as volunteers at the clinic, along with Exercise Science and Dietetics majors who provide health counseling and education – all with faculty supervision.

The new facility is ideal, said Landgraff, because it is larger than the former space on Midlothian and is dedicated to the Free Clinic, not shared. The space is newly renovated, has free parking and is located on a bus line.

Since the move, YSU’s Department of Physical Therapy has added a pro-bono physical therapy clinic, Penguin Physical Therapy. Students in the university’s doctoral PT program are gaining hands-on experience working with clients, also with faculty oversight. Referrals come from the free clinic and from PT practices that have patients with financial hardships, said Landgraff.

Joseph Mosca, dean of the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services, said he and some members of his faculty had been in talks for over a year with the Rev. Carolyn Griffeth, pastor of First Presbyterian, about expanding the church’s service to the community. When volunteers operating the Free Clinic had to find a new location, the church offered space on its lower level and was even willing to pay some of the renovation costs.

“It was kind of serendipitous, the way it all came together,” Mosca said.

Currently, the Midlothian Free Clinic provides hands-on experience for 12 to 15 students in Nursing, Dietetics and Exercise Science. In addition, 60 DPT students will work in the clinic, in small groups of four or five students. In the near future, Mosca said, students pursuing degrees as Nurse Practitioners and Social Work interns will be assigned there as well.

“This partnership puts the university in a position to make a positive impact on the community,” the dean said. “Service is part of our college’s mission – all our degree programs are committed to the health and overall wellbeing of the general public. This gives us opportunities to fulfill that mission.”

Founded in 2008 by a group of nurses who work under Dr. Thomas E. Albani Jr., medical director, the Free Clinic is a non-profit corporation run by a volunteer board. For information, to volunteer or to donate, visit the clinic’s website.