Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences NSU Physical Therapy, Physician’s Assistant, and Psychology Programs team up to treat over 600 patients in Puerto Rico


In April 2019, students, faculty, and alumni of the NSU Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) Programs in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa under the leadership of Ovidio Olivencia, D.P.T., PT, OCS, and Keiba Shaw, D.P.T., Ed.D., PT, joined forces with the Physician’s Assistant Program in Orlando led by Victor Quinones, M.S., PA-C, EMT-P, the Psychology program at the Fort Lauderdale/Davie campus, led  by Diana Formoso, Ph.D., and the NSU campus in San Juan and area Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate and provide healthcare for people in the communities of Anãsco, Bayamón, Cataño, Humacao, and Utuado.

Lance Cherry, Ed.D., PT, OCS, Jessica Estrada, D.P.T., PT, ATC,  both from Tampa and Ellen Kaldor, M.P.T., PT, PCS, a physical therapist specializing in pediatrics served as preceptors for the physical therapy students. Joining the NSU team was a nurse and a paramedic who provided invaluable expertise and treatment. Over the course of 5 days, the team was able to provide quality health, medical and psychological care, equipment, and vaccinations to approximately 600 people. This Medical Outreach led to many success stories from the perspectives of the communities that were served, the students, preceptors and community partners.

Ramon Vazquez from FEMA said, “I witnessed many success stories and one in particular moved me very much. I witnessed an elderly gentleman in “Hogar Nuestra Señora” de la Providencia who was unable to walk but was able to walk and move after he received treatment from your team.”

A veteran of other NSU sponsored Medical Outreach’s including Jamaica, Kaldor said, Hearing of Puerto Rico’s devastation from Maria, I was so happy to help. It was truly a pleasure to travel and work with Lance and your students, Dr. Formosa and her students and Victor Quinones and his students. I learned a great deal from them as well as hoping they did from me. So glad to be part of this team.”

The trip in April was the second trip for the D.P.T. students and faculty to Puerto Rico. Recognizing in November 2018 that there still was a need for assistance as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017, a group of eight NSU D.P.T. students under the supervision of Olivencia, Shaw, and Estrada, travelled to the community of Toa Baja, and provided physical therapy services and education for 56 patients over the course of two days.

In addition, $1,200 worth of medical supplies including but not limited to canes, crutches, back and knee braces were provided for those in need! During this trip, Shaw met with community leaders under the guidance of NSU Puerto Rico Campus director, Vanessa Blanco, and FEMA liaison, Vazquez, to assess the need and set the stage for future Medical Outreach to island.

NSU is committed to meeting the health care needs of the underserved in Puerto Rico by providing quality care. In light of this dedication, the next Medical Outreach to Puerto Rico is scheduled for November 17-23, 2019. We have tentatively scheduled the Spring Medical Outreach to Puerto Rico for March 15-21, 2020.

For both trips we are looking for students and faculty from all health care disciplines who have a passion to serve and want to make a positive impact in those that they touch. If you or your students have an interest in attending this outreach, please contact Dr. Keiba Shaw at ks1453@nova.edu.

Visit the PCHCS Community Outreach page for more information and photos: https://healthsciences.nova.edu/community-outreach/index.html.  You can also view a short presentation by Shaw outlining some of the needs of each of the communities we have serviced, https://youtu.be/zosmC4CkCH4.