Bellarmine’s physical therapy clinic expands

Donor Michael E. Hobbs is pictured with physical therapy doctoral students at Bellarmine University in this photo sent to The Record by the university. Hobbs’ donations have helped Bellarmine open what is believed to be the first endowed physical therapy service learning clinic in the nation. (Photo Special to The Record)

Donor Michael E. Hobbs is pictured with physical therapy doctoral students at Bellarmine University in this photo sent to The Record by the university. Hobbs’ donations have helped Bellarmine open what is believed to be the first endowed physical therapy service learning clinic in the nation. (Photo Special to The Record)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

What’s being called the first endowed physical therapy service learning clinic in the nation recently opened its doors on the campus of Bellarmine University.

The Michael E. Hobbs Service Learning Clinic allows students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program to gain real world experience while providing care to patients in the community at no charge, said Dr. Tony Brosky, assistant dean and professor of physical therapy in the Lansing School of Nursing & Health Science. He was speaking in an interview last week.

The newly-named clinic is located on the first floor of Nolan C. Allen Hall on Bellarmine’s campus.

The physical therapy pro-gram has had an on-campus service learning clinic since 2003 but the recent endowment by Hobbs, a graduate of the university, has allowed for the expansion of the clinic as well as the purchase of additional equipment and supplies, Brosky said. The endowment also will support additional faculty positions and community outreach efforts.

“We never had a budget before (for the clinic). All the supplies and equipment came out of the program. When we started to reach out to the community, the costs continued to increase,” Brosky said.

In addition to the Hobbs clinic on campus, the program’s 200 or so doctoral students also reach out to the community in several other ways.

Students provide care at the Catholic Enrichment Center, 3146 West Broadway; at the Park DuValle Community Health Center, 3015 Wilson Avenue; and with the on-campus initiative “Let’s Dance,” a partnership with the Parkinson’s Support Group of Kentuckiana.

The service learning aspect is critical to the physical therapy program, Brosky said. So much so,he said, that it’s an official part of the curriculum. There is time built into the daily schedule for students to gain practical experience in one of the clinics under the supervision of faculty.

“Aside from the clinical skills, the students are able to work with real patients. They are able to find out their personal strengths and weaknesses,” he explained. “The (new) clinic gives them the opportunity to work on those areas they can improve in a safe, supervised environment.”

The clinics also provide quality physical therapy care at no cost to members of the community who otherwise may not be able to afford it, he added.

Brosky said the clinic also allows the student to practice their professional behavior, interpersonal skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Michael E. Hobbs, a native of Flaherty, Ky., said he wanted to give back to his alma mater because the education he received at Bellarmine was the launching pad for the success he has achieved.

Hobbs is one of nine children who grew up on a farm in Meade County. His family attended St. Martin of Tours Church there. He graduated from Bellarmine in 1971 and returned to the university complete a master’s in business administration in 1983.

“My time at Bellarmine was a pivotal time in my life. It put me in a different direction,” Hobbs said. “Everything for me stemmed from Bellarmine. It was very positive.”

Hobbs, who serves on the university’s board of trustees, also said that he is thrilled to see what the school has grown into today.

“I feel really good about what Bellarmine is doing to educate young people and they are doing it in a good way, educating the whole person,” he said.

Hobbs lives in Chicago and is the owner and chief executive officer of Engineered Glass Products. He said he donated the funds for the new clinic because physical therapy is subject dear to his heart.

Hobbs suffered a herniated disc in 1997. With the helped of a dedicated physical therapist, Hobbs was able to resume his normal activities. He said he still sees the therapist once or twice a month and credits her with improving his quality of life.

Hobbs said he is impressed by what he’s seen of the doctoral of physical therapy program at Bellarmine.

“It blows me away the impact they have. … I’m thrilled to be a part of it. They are graduating great young people who will be great physical therapists,” he said. “I’m a proud Bellarmine alum and am proud to contribute something that is making a different to Bellarmine and in the community.”

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