The honoured physical therapists (from left): Kay Ahern, Mary Christman with a Haitian colleague, and Antoinette Sander.
The honoured physical therapists (from left): Kay Ahern, Mary Christman with a Haitian colleague, and Antoinette Sander.

Physical therapists honoured for commitment to overseas voluntary work

Three physical therapists have been honoured for their commitment to improving global health through their voluntary work in the education, training, and professional development of health workers in resource-scarce countries.

The development organisation Health Volunteers Overseas has announced that physical therapists Kay Ahern, Mary Christman and Antoinette Sander – all from the United States – are receiving Golden Apple Awards for their contribution. 

“They are inspirational leaders, and we are grateful for their dedication to empowering health workers and making more and better care available around the world,” said Nancy Kelly, Executive Director of HVO. 

An HVO volunteer since 1999, Kay Ahern has completed 17 overseas assignments in six different countries and played a pivotal role in leading HVO’s physical therapy programme. She has served both as a member of the Physical Therapy Steering Committee and as a Project Director for HVO’s hand therapy project in Nicaragua. “She consistently models the behaviors of compassion and understanding, both for local staff and for her fellow volunteers,” said her citation.

Mary Christman, a staff physical therapist at the Casa De Salud in St Louis, has completed nine overseas assignments at HVO’s physical therapy training project at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, Haiti, committing nearly 150 volunteer service days to the project. HVO says this has led to improved quality of care not just at the hospital, but its many partner institutions. “Providers trained at the hospital are now taking an active role in the development of rehabilitation services at a national level.”

Over ten years and 215 service days with HVO, Antoinette Sander, an Associate Professor Emerita at Northwestern University, has worked as a volunteer, steering committee member, project director, and task force member. She contributed at four HVO project sites, spending six months in Rwanda providing continuing education to physical therapists. Currently she is working with HVO to establish a new physical therapy training project in Myanmar.

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