Free Village injury assessments resume

Gina McAlear, left, demonstrates shoulder stretches on Kahite Activity Center staff member Nicole Foxx.

Timeless Tellico Foundation has funded an opportunity for all Tellico Village residents to have access to a free injury assessment provided by Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinics.

TTF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving Tellico Village recreation and amenity facilities, provided $5,000 to keep its partnership with TOC going, Simon Bradbury, Tellico Village Property Owners Association Recreation Department director and TTF president, said.

The foundation receives funds from private and corporate sponsors. Bradbury emphasized the POA and individuals in Tellico Village are not paying for injury assessment services.

Bradbury said the partnership started “a few years back” when Matt Schaller, TOC athletic trainer, started coming to the Village once a week to offer free assessments.

“We went through the recreation department strategic plan, and one of the things we identified was the need for more exercise professionals, injury-specific professionals on staff to provide services for our members,” Bradbury said. “… At the same time, the Timeless Tellico Foundation had just gotten started, and we were looking for a good first project, and that was ideal. We got a donation of $5,000 that paid for the program, and we really liked the idea because it’s giving back to everybody.”

Gina McAlear, TOC athletic trainer, took over injury assessments from Schaller in January and expanded the program from once a week to five days a week. She sees Tellico Village residents 8 a.m.-noon Monday-Friday in the Chota Recreation Center.

McAlear quickly realized a need in Kahite when she heard concerns from patients about the long drive from that community to the recreation center. McAlear started seeing patients in the Kahite exercise room once a month before COVID-19 stopped all activities. She intends to continue injury assessments in Kahite once a month. She said residents will be notified two weeks in advance of when she will be there so they can make reservations.

The free assessments are beneficial for residents who get discouraged by complicated doctor’s visits, Bradbury said.

“What’s good about it is it makes it very convenient and easy to go do versus having to go and make an appointment,” he said. “A lot of people will put things off like, ‘I have to make an appointment to go see a therapist, and they have to take a copay, and it’ll be a month out,’ or you could just show up down there, and they’ll take a look at you and assess it. So it makes it simpler.”

McAlear said she typically starts by asking about patient history, which can reveal much about what’s going on. She will then conduct physical tests to determine if a patient needs to be seen by a physician or could benefit from an easy fix like stretching.

“Sometimes it’s very obvious right away there’s not a whole lot I can do to help, and we probably need to see a physician,” she said. “At that point, I always talk to them about, I don’t get paid off referrals, if you have an orthopedic doctor that you want to see, by all means, that’s great. But for a lot of people, they’re new to Tellico Village. So I’m able to tell them, ‘OK, I know of this knee doctor. I feel like your personalities would click really well. Let me see if they have openings.’ Then I can kind of assist them in finding their way because when people move down here it’s so hard to know how to find a good doctor.”