SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College Physical Therapy Professors Dawn Roberts and Kim Nowakowski will lead physical- and occupational-therapy students on global health service trips during the week of March 13-17. For the third consecutive year, Roberts and her students will spend their spring break as volunteers at the Haitian Foundation of Rehabilitation (FONHARE) clinic in the town of Ouanaminthe. Nowakowski’s group will assist with the National Fall Prevention Program in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Once again, we will go out into the local community to perform home assessments and to work with families on home modifications and family training to improve access to the community for individuals with disabilities,” said Roberts, who also supervised the trip to Haiti in 2015 and 2016. “Students provide evidence-based assessment and interventions for a variety of pathologies alongside local Haitian clinicians with the goal of expanding the skill set of the Haitian therapists. This is a great experience for Springfield College students who can learn while working side-by-side with clinicians at FONHARE.”
The Springfield College contingency in Haiti was invited by Dr. Ivens Louius, founder and director of FONHARE and a trained physical and occupational therapist, following multiple years of relationship building between Springfield College School of Health Sciences and Rehabilitation Studies Dean Dr. Julia Chevan, Roberts, and professionals at the clinic. FONHARE is a grass-roots Haitian nonprofit organization with no political or religious affiliation that is dedicated to providing integrated physical and cognitive rehabilitation services to children and youth with disabilities in the northern region of Haiti, especially those with a poor quality of life and limited resources. FONHARE is the only organization providing rehabilitation services in Northeast Haiti to 13 cities with almost 500,000 citizens.
The National Fall Prevention program in Trinidad and Tobago, new this year, was developed based on a needs assessment conducted with physiotherapists from Total Rehabilitation Centre Limited and the Physiotherapy Assoc. of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT), the sole professional body that represents all physiotherapists in Trinidad and Tobago. PATT seeks to improve the overall health and wellness of society through physiotherapy education, practice, and professional and patient advocacy.
Total Rehabilitation Centre Limited was established in May 2007 to provide quality healthcare in a friendly, compassionate environment that is geared toward facilitating healing and ultimately return to the function of living. Carla Rauseo, a 2004 alumna of the physical-therapy program who is a physical therapist at Total Rehabilitation and a member of PATT, initiated the collaborative effort with Springfield College’s physical-therapy program. The National Fall Prevention Program will provide education and fall risk screenings to older adults at four different locations in Trinidad and Tobago.
Chevan said the global health service trips are “an opportunity for the enrolled students to gain an understanding of global health issues, and the contrasts of the provision of healthcare and rehabilitative services in the United States to other countries.”