Until March 2023, performing artists from North Texas will be able to receive free health care treatment thanks to a pilot program by the University of North Texas Health Center at Fort Worth.
The Performing Arts Medicine Clinic specializes in the prevention and treatment of specific injuries that are commonly found among artists. Because of the discipline they endure in their artistry, musculoskeletal problems are a major risk for performing artists, and so, that’s one of the main focuses of clinical care at the clinic.
"I believe there are so many performers out there who either are just thinking, ‘oh, this is part of my life. Art is painful. Art has suffered and this is just what I have to endure,'" UNT Health Science Center Dr. Yein Lee told NBCDFW. "I used to think that."
Lee, who started violin when she was 7 years old, also highlighted the economic insecurity of many performing artists and how it limits their access to health care. "When I started taking care of musicians, dancers … any kind of performing artist, I realized they don't have high-paying jobs and many of them are underinsured and uninsured," Lee said.
Program co-founder and co-director of the Texas Center for Performing Arts Health, Dr. Sajid Surve is also an artist herself and encourages artists to approach the first-of-its-kind clinic — not only for treating injuries, but also to receive a complete check-up including outside stressors and factors that could increase the risk of injuries as well as tips and techniques to reduce the risk in the future.
"We've taken care of basically anyone across the spectrum of performers, dancers, musicians, singers, you name it, we've done it," Surve told WFAA.
The free clinic program is possible thanks to an anonymous private donor and supporter of the arts and according to Surve, the goal is to extend the program beyond its March deadline.
"If we can create this kind of program from an anonymous donor, then maybe we can expand it," Lee said. "It doesn't have to be all the time, but maybe it's a recurring program."
The Performance Arts Medicine Clinic is at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth and is ready to provide health care to any performing artist of any age with a performance-related injury or condition. Call 817-735-2455 to book an appointment.