New center to provide for uninsured residents

The North Broad Physical Therapy Center opens January.

Temple’s health community is using physical therapy to reach out to local neighbors.

The North Broad Physical Therapy Center, or the NBPTC, a pro bono clinic led by Temple students, will open in January to neighborhoods in North Philadelphia. The center will be located on the third floor of Jones Hall and will provide physical therapy treatment for residents who have limited to no health insurance.

Matthew Johnston, a third-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, has been working alongside other students throughout the development of the project, and he feels the center will have a necessary impact on the surrounding community.

“I think education and health literacy is really important,” Johnston said. “Just showing the people the resources that are out there, not only for physical therapy, but for other services. From back pain to heart and lung conditions, you name it and we probably can treat it.”

“We’re just getting the word out that we can make a difference,” he added.

The NBPTC is run by students from the College of Public Health and guided by faculty members and alumni.  There are currently 22 organizational and administrative board members, and once the center opens, volunteers will work in teams of three, composed of first, second and third-year students.

Students at the center will gain real-world experience as they rotate through the responsibilities of running the center, like registration, reception, providing services and ordering supplies.

Dr. Laura Siminoff, dean of the College of Public Health, understands the significance of immersing Temple students into the Philadelphia community in an impactful way.

“The center is great for a variety of reasons including, number one, that we’re providing needed therapeutic services to people who don’t normally have access to valuable physical therapy services,” Siminoff said. “Secondly, it’s providing our students with an opportunity to not only practice their skills and provide services, but they’re also getting real-world, real-life experiences on how to manage and run a physical therapy clinic.”

Johnston and his fellow students have also gone through the process of fundraising and grant-writing.

The NBPTC will continue to raise money through its campaign on Temple’s crowdsourcing platform OwlCrowd, which will run through Dec. 7. The campaign has raised 76 percent of its $5,000 goal, as of Monday evening.

Initially, the campaign was used to jumpstart the creation of the center, but it will also help to cover costs that come with time and expansion of staff.

“I think the sky’s the limit and this can really evolve every year,” Johnston said. “We’re excited to get the medical and occupational therapy students on board, as well as other people in our college and other universities.”

Members working with the NBPTC said they are grateful for the many donations made by alumni.  All of the equipment in the center has been donated by physical therapy alumni.  Johnston, along with students and faculty members, is eager for the NBPTC to open shortly after winter break.

“We’re excited to just get the doors open, start meeting people and have an impact on our community in a positive way,” Johnston said.

Jenny Stein can be reached at

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