Community Initiatives

Columbia University’s Programs in Occupational Therapy is proud of our community involvement. Our work in the community not only reflects an important value, but also brings occupational therapy to underserved populations through Interprofessional partnerships and collaborations. Here is a sample of some of our community initiatives.

CHHMP: Columbia-Harlem Homeless Medical Partnership

Columbia University Programs in Occupational Therapy work with the Columbia-Harlem Homeless Medical Partnership (CHHMP) to provide free OT services to people in the community. Occupational therapy students work with patients under the direct supervision of faculty members who are licensed occupational therapists to improve access to quality health care and promote health and wellness through engagement in everyday activities. Two evenings a month in the basement of a local church, OT students volunteer to provide the following services: behavior/mental health, physical function, medication management and compliance, mobility and falls prevention as well as housing issues. This interdisciplinary partnership involves CUMC medical and dental students.

Health and Housing Fair

Columbia University Programs in Occupational Therapy partners with Project Renewal’s Fort Washington Men’s Shelter’s Annual Health and Housing Fair to provide free OT evaluations in the areas of stress and time management, vision screening, and sleep management. They also conduct OT groups at the Fair to prepare clients for housing interviews and independent living in the community. This is an interdisciplinary effort also involving CUMC medical and dental students.

NAMI: National Alliance for Mental Illness

Every May students and faculty from CUMC Programs in Occupational Therapy join with other NY Metropolitan Area OT students, faculty and clinicians as well as clients and other healthcare professionals in the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk to raise awareness and funds for research and community mental health programming. Columbia OTs join the city-wide team, OTs Walk with NAMI, to involve clients with mental health problems in walking groups to promote healthy exercise habits and routines.

Neighborhood Fund Community Organizations: Indirect Service Community Partnerships

Within the Programs in Occupational Therapy, graduate occupational therapy students partner with community organizations in Washington Heights. The objectives are to focus on identifying relevant and important social, cultural and health conditions that have the potential to marginalize or promote social injustice and occupational deprivation at individual, group and population levels. The goal of this program is to establish and develop a mutual partnership that will produce a bilateral fundable community grant proposal. Occupational students and community partners work collaboratively in researching the identified “problem”, evaluating trends and forecasting, performing a SWOT analysis, conducting community needs assessment, developing the program design and presenting the final proposal to community members. Thus, within this partnership, community members are provided with a respectable grant for submission to a funder and the graduate students garner new ways of thinking in the social context.

Project Hope

Members of Columbia’s Occupational Therapy Programs volunteer with Project Hope and the Department of Homeless Services, taking to the streets of New York City in an effort to count homeless New Yorkers. These New Yorkers do not live in shelters but instead rely on subway grates and cardboard boxes. This “count” takes place during a cold January night, from 10:30 PM to 4:30 AM, and is instrumental in determining the services provided to our city’s homeless population.

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