Indiana State University Newsroom

Professor, students provide free medical service through Terre Haute clinic

June 28, 2010

An Indiana State University professor who identified a need in the Terre Haute community for free rehabilitation services is now using his students to fill that gap.

The St. Ann Clinic, located at 1436 Locust St. in Terre Haute, is a free medical clinic and ministry of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. Associate Professor Timothy Demchak began his association with the organization in the fall of 2008.

Working with the clinic, which provides free primary health care to those who live at or below the national poverty level, appealed to Demchak in part because of the ideals ingrained in him at Manchester College.

"There was a faith-based service learning component to my undergraduate work," he said. "So I always had the idea of working with a clinic, and I looked for a place to do that."

Demchak's first step was to assign graduate students in his athletic training clinical class to assess the need for rehabilitation services at the clinic. His students identified 286 orthopedic referrals that had been made through St. Ann Clinic during 2008 and 2009.

Clinic Administrator Sister Lawrence Ann Liston said the need for ISU's assistance was abundantly clear.

"We always have a need for more volunteers," she said. "The folks we see here are really the working poor. They have no insurance, no Medicare or Medicaid, no family physician. Many of them are working for very low wages or not working at all.

"We were referring them out to other agencies, and they wouldn't go because of transportation," she said.

Cost was also an obstacle if the agencies charged patients for their services, Liston said. So many times the patients went without the rehabilitative care they needed.

In the fall of 2009, Demchak and ISU Associate Professor Leamor Kahanov applied for and received an $8,000 Focus Indiana Health Care Departmental Initiative Grant funded by the Lilly Endowment to start an orthopedic rehabilitation center at the clinic.

The grant helped Demchak purchase tables, weights, tubing, exercise balls and evaluation tools for the center before it opened in February.

During its first four months of operation, Demchak and his students provided rehabilitative care to 73 patients, a majority of whom suffer from chronic shoulder or back injuries.

Demchak says it's not just the clinic or its patients that gain from his students' work there.

"By the students coming and working here, they get to see a different population they wouldn't normally see," he said. "Most of this population has secondary risk factors. They may be diabetic, or drug users or alcoholics with chronic injuries that are years old."

That's different from the athletic training experiences ISU students' most often have through their work with college and high school athletes, Demchak said.

Demchak is now working out the details to use the clinic more extensively, to provide service two days a week rather than just one, and to staff it regularly with at least one graduate assistant. And he's searching for more grant money that will help him make that possible.

He's also assigned students in his introductory courses to complete observation hours at the clinic, virtually creating an extension of his college classroom.

"Working with people one-on-one is very different than hearing a lecture in a classroom setting," he said. "Students will come away from the clinic and say they're learning new tricks, and that's the fun part."

Contact: Timothy Demchak, associate professor of athletic training, ISU College of Nursing Health and Human Services at 812-237-8496 or

Writer: Rachel Wedding McClelland, assistant director of media relations, ISU Communications and Marketing at 812-237-3790 or

Photo: Demchak (ISU Photo/Tony Campbell). ISU Associate Professor Timothy Demchak leads a patient at the St. Ann Clinic in Terre Haute through rehabilitation exercises (ISU Photo/Tony Campbell).