Tuesday, May 28, 2019

SLU PT Students Organize Feminine Hygiene Product Drive to Benefit Underserved St. Louisans

Left: Nina Valaitis, SPT and Right: Caroline Lipic, SPT

SLU PT Students, Caroline Lipic, SPT and Nina Valaitis, SPT Advocate for Menstrual Health

The Menstrual Hygiene Product Drive was organized by Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy students Caroline Lipic, SPT and Nina Valaitis, SPT, both under the guidance of its founder and SLU PT Alumna, Dr. Christina Vivit (SLU DPT Class of 2019). Lipic and Valaitis also partnered with community organizations serving as distribution locations, including the St. Patrick Center and St. Louis Alliance for Period Supplies. This initiative was also supported by the SLU Program in Physical Therapy and the SLU Micah Program which stationed on-site collection boxes in their offices.

The drive was a quantitative success. Specifically, they collected 1,588 Tampons; 1,148 pads; 48 liners; 4 bottles of hand sanitizer and 1 pack of personal cleansing wipes. These supplies will go to the needy and underserved in the local region. “Our target population are people in the St. Louis community who have periods but do not have access or funds to purchase and use menstrual products. This includes but is not limited to people who are experiencing homelessness,” writes Caroline Lipic.

Not being able to afford menstrual hygiene products is a widespread problem in the region. Lipic reminds us that “Dr. Anne Sebert Kuhlmann’s research on ‘period poverty’ has shown that ⅔ of low -income STL women can’t afford Tampons or pads.” These products just simply aren’t available through safety net programs, like Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SANPT) “Adequate menstrual hygiene management is not a luxury,” Kuhlmann and her co-authors conclude in the study. “It is a basic need for all women and should be regarded as a basic woman’s right,” continues Kuhlmann.

By spring 2020, the St. Patrick Center will become a full-time distributor of period supplies, along with St. Louis Alliance for Period Supply.  This means that the Center will receive and distribute products every month from drives like the one held last March by Lipic and Valaitis, who plan on seeking your support again next year.

DPT students Caroline Lipic and Nina Valaitis would like to acknowledge the generosity behind the donations. They released the following statement thanking all parties involved in the drive’s success: “To all those who came together to support our community members in St. Louis in the 2nd Annual SLU PT Menstrual Hygiene Product Drive, we thank you!“

To find out more about St. Patrick Center, you can locate information on their website: www.stpatrickcenter.org
To find out more about St. Louis Alliance for Period Supplies, you can locate information on their website: www.allianceforperiodsupplies.org

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

SLU PT Alumni Spotlight - Julie Echsner Gahimer PT, HSD

SLU PT Alumni Spotlight - Julie Echsner Gahimer PT, HSD (Doctor of Health and Safety)

Professor of Physical Therapy, University of Indianapolis, Krannert School of Physical Therapy

Hometown: Columbus, IN
Current Town/City: Greenwood, IN

SLU PT Class of 1981

Interests, Activities, Clubs, and Professional Organizations

American Physical Therapy Association (Education and Neurology Sections), Health Volunteers Overseas, 2019-2020 Leadership Johnson County Class, Technology in Higher Education, a Certified Laughter Leader (CLL), Certified in Laughter Yoga, Volunteer at the Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic, International Service Learning Symposium Committee, Board Member at the Baxter YMCA, Faculty co-leader of Service Provision of rehabilitation service in Belize, 2019 co-leader of UIndy Spring Term trip to the Camino de Santiago, Spain, Catholic Charities Disaster Response Team, Mission trips with church and catholic high school, UIndy Healthy Diploma Coach, UIndy Christian Vocations Mentor.

Dr. Gahimer with colleagues Stephanie Combs-Miller and Connie Fiems attending the IVSTEP conference at Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio. July 2016
If you could come back to SLU and teach a class, which class would you like to teach?

I actually was fortunate enough to present a Health Promotion lecture to nursing students at the SLU Madrid campus several years ago when my daughter attended her sophomore year (2012) there.  I would love to teach a class on interprofessionalism or instructional design and delivery.

Dr. Gahimer with the Billiken during the bicentennial celebrations.
What was the most valuable lesson — inside or outside the classroom — you learned at SLU?

I learned the importance of community service and giving back. Quite a few members of my immediate family are SLU graduates as well.  Everyone has had the same experience.  My father received a Community Service Award from the SLU Medical School in 2016.  Quite an honor for him at 90 years of age.

A Poster Presentation at the International Symposium on Service Learning in Stellenbosh, South Africa 
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

I actually have two that I cannot decide between.  The greatest professional accomplishments are receiving "The UIndy 2012 Teacher of Year Award" and "The 2017 UIndy Peter's Good Neighbor Award."
Dr. Gahimer receiving the Peter's Good Neighbor Award from UIndy in 2017
What advice do you have for students getting ready to graduate with their DPT?

"Be where your feet are" and "be present" in all interactions in and out of the clinic.
"If you love your work, you will never work a day in your life"

A Service Learning trip to San Ignacio, Belize in 2016.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I have been teaching at UIndy since 1986.  This past year I have been granted a year-long sabbatical and recently spent a total of 4 weeks volunteering for an organization called Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO).  I taught physical therapy faculty and students at Da Nang University for Medical Technology and Pharmacy, in Da Nang, Vietnam. It was truly a professional and personal highlight of my physical therapy career. You can read more about that experience in the Daily Journal: http://www.dailyjournal.net/2019/02/26/local_professor_teaches_in_vietnam/
Students and faculty at Da Nang University
This is one of several posts featuring SLU PT Alumni experiences. The Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy wants to recognize the exciting and innovative things our alumni are doing, here in St. Louis and around the world. For more information for and about SLU alumni experiences go to: http://www.slu.edu/alumni-and-donors/.

Friday, May 10, 2019

SLU PT Students Make Connections at the MPTA Spring Conference

MSSIG 2019 Missouri Spring Conference Activities

Missouri Physical Therapy Association's Student Special Interest Group (MSSIG) recently held its 2019 Missouri Spring Conference in St. Louis on Saturday, April 13th. Physical therapy students and physical therapy assistant students traveled from around the state to discuss student activities and advocacy, including topics, such as Direct Access, Student Loans, National Health Services Corps, POPTs and more.

After the conference Saturday evening, MSSIG hosted its National Advocacy Dinner with special guest, State Level Director for the Missouri Physical Therapy Association, Niki Wallen, MOL, BS, PTA, who led an interactive activity surrounding leadership and teamwork. Attendees enjoyed a meal together, made new connections and explored their leadership styles.

The Friday evening before the conference, all participants met for a Statewide Kickball Tournament on SLU’s Vandeventer Field. The unusual trophy was a golden pelvis, handed down from the previous MSSIG Kickball Tournament which took place 5 years ago between Saint Louis University, Washington University in Saint Louis and Maryville University.

“This event was a really fun way to bring PT students together from different Missouri schools. The turnout was great, and while the competition was definitely intense, everybody was having a great time socializing, and it was all for a good cause!” stated Brandon Moseley, (DPT Class of 2021) Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy MSSIG Representative. Not only is the Missouri Spring Conference a chance to network and promote dialogue, but the tournament itself also helps raise money for student scholarships which defray the cost of attending APTA and MPTA conferences throughout the year.

Congratulations to MSSIG for accomplishing so much during the 2019 Missouri Spring Conference. We extend our gratitude for all the support and leadership that brought these events to fruition. Specifically, we would like to thank:

Jamie Brew (DPT Class of 2020): Vice Chair of Missouri Student Special Interest Group (MSSIG)

Kelsey Bequette (DPT Class of 2021): MSSIG Representative

Jessica Garland (DPT Class of 2021): MSSIG Representative

Sarah Melulis (DPT Class of 2021): MSSIG Representative

Brandon Moseley (DPT Class of 2021): MSSIG Representative

Caroline Lipic (DPT Class of 2021): Missouri Core Ambassador for American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)