Tuesday, September 13, 2022

SLU PT Student Emily Redpath Uses Scholarship to Focus on Service in Belize

Cheryl L. Cavallo Memorial Scholarship Spotlight

by Emily Redpath (DPT Class of 2023)

The Cheryl Cavallo scholarship allowed me to spend 4 weeks of my clinical experience at Hillside Healthcare International in Punta Gorda, Belize! The clinic provides free healthcare services to members of the Toledo district, where 80% of its 30,000 inhabitants are living below the Belizean poverty line.  Through the clinic, I worked with another SLU PT student, Alysa Janke, SLU faculty member, Carol Beckel, PT, PhD, and the rehabilitation director, Julia Steiner, PT, to provide physical therapy services.  There are less than 20 licensed physical therapists in Belize and Hillside provides the only physical therapy services in the Toledo district, so this is an incredibly important service that this scholarship has helped me to offer. 

Carol Beckel, PT, PhD, Alysa Janke, Julia Steiner, PT, and Emily Redpath outside the outpatient physical therapy center at Hillside

Each morning we worked in the outpatient clinic and every afternoon we would travel around the town for home health visits. Providing home health visits was one of my favorite parts of the experience because it allowed me to get to know my patient’s values better so that I could form a strong connection to treat them in the most effective way possible.  Additionally, we travelled on mobile clinics to villages around the Toledo district to provide care in more remote areas. The mobiles had just started up again after the pandemic during my time in Belize, so the villages that we traveled to had not been visited by Hillside in over two years.  On the mobiles we evaluated patients with musculoskeletal complaints, created long-term treatment plans for them to perform during the time in between our village visits and educated people on what physical therapy is and how simple changes in their daily activities can help to alleviate their pain and make them move better.

The start of our 3 hour drive for a mobile visit to a rural village

Looking out on the village from the mobile clinic location

Another one of my favorite parts about this experience was the interprofessional care that we were able to provide. On our mobile visits, Alysa and I co-evaluated patients alongside the medical students and residents.  We got to work through patient cases together as an interprofessional team and ask questions of each other not only on mobiles, but with many patients at the clinic.  Each student had a different way of treating a patient’s diagnosis, so it was enlightening to view each patient from each medical professional’s lenses.  It was a great way for Alysa and I to advocate for physical therapy as well because the medical student and residents were able to see first hand what we do and how we can help patients.

Treatment team of doctors, residents, medical students, pharmacy students and physical therapy students

SLU PT students Alysa Janke and Emily Redpath presenting about causes of low back pain to other students

Taking blood pressures and blood sugars and educating patients on healthy habits at the monthly health fair

Overall, this has been one of the most meaningful experiences that I have had during my time at SLU.  I was pushed out of my comfort zone and feel that I grew not only as a practitioner, but as a person.  This experience challenged my creativity skills in treating patients to create interventions that did not use typical resources found in clinics back in the states.  I furthered my love for physical therapy because I saw truly how impactful it can be to people’s lives, even if they are only coming a few times a month. Dr. Carol Beckel said it best upon her departure from the clinic, “A portion of my heart stays behind each trip.” This rings true for me after returning to campus from this clinical experience. I will never forget the people that I met on this rotation and I will always think of the experiences I had in Belize as I move forward in my education and career. I am beyond grateful for the Cheryl Cavallo scholarship that helped me to live out this dream and provide physical therapy to the wonderful people of Belize. 

Celebrating the amazing experience 

To support this scholarship, sign up for our annual Hustle for Your Health 5k at this website: https://alumni.slu.edu/s/1264/17/interior.aspx?sid=1264&gid=1&pgid=7723&cid=12360&ecid=12360&_ga=2.140536311.492866999.1663102199-1303666273.1663102199

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