MBJ: UTHSC opens pro bono clinic in memory of student
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has opened a pro bono pediatric occupational therapy center in honor of a student who died in 2015.
UTHSC student Rachel Kay Stevens died suddenly in January 2015, just after starting occupational therapy school. She was 21 years old. Her parents, Randy and Katrina Stevens of Batesville, Arkansas, approached her instructors about starting a scholarship in their daughter’s name.
The idea grew and on Tuesday, Feb. 9, the doors of the new Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center opened at the UTHSC Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities at 711 Jefferson Ave.
The therapy center will be the only pro bono pediatric clinic in the area providing occupational therapy services to children and their families who are uninsured or under insured. Voluntarily managed and staffed primarily by occupational therapy students — under UTHSC faculty supervision — the center will provide developmental screenings, evaluations and occupational therapy treatment for children, as well as classes for parents.
Dr. Anne Zachry, assistant professor and chair of the Occupational Therapy Department in the College of Health Professions at UTHSC, said the center will provide students with real-world experience and educational opportunities they would not have otherwise.
“Our goal has two layers,” Zachry said. “We plan to incorporate the clinic experience into pediatrics classes for the students. They’re going to be better practitioners, because they actually have worked, hands-on, with children who have special needs. An additional goal is community outreach. It’s a win-win for the students and the community. I am pleased we are able to honor Rachel in this way.”
The Stevens family’s donation was supplemented by money raised through a letter-writing campaign by Rachel Stevens’ classmates and department faculty. UTHSC assisted the effort by donating the space and helping with renovations.”