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Chiropractic puts Q-C on world map

DAVENPORT -- The only health-care profession founded in the United States was chiropractic, and it got its start in Davenport.

``To have it founded here in the Quad-Cities is a tremendous testament to the area,'' said Gary Mohr, executive director of institutional advancement at Palmer College of Chiropractic. ``Over 20 million Americans are under chiropractic care, and it has gone around the world. To have the profession's birthplace and its first-ever college here is something we deservedly need to be proud of.''

Davenport and the Quad-Cities literally are known around the globe thanks largely to two organizations -- Deere & Co. and Palmer College -- Palmer president Virgil Strang said.

``We both do business all over the world,'' Dr. Strang said, ``the business in connection to us being education.''

About 1,800 students are enrolled at Palmer at any given time. About 10 percent are international students representing 25 countries. The other students come from all over the country.

``We're constantly hosting visitors from all over the world who want to see the fountainhead of chiropractic,'' provost and vice president of academic affairs Don Betz said.

Palmer College's economic impact on the Quad-Cities is obvious and impressive. An estimated $150 million annually is pumped into the area's economy, Dr. Strang said.

The college also employs about 400 people. Many students take part-time jobs at area restaurants and businesses, providing a ready labor supply. Students who need apartments or residences also tend to sustain a brisk rental housing industry.

Centennial celebrations for the college and profession, held last year and about two years ago, respectively, filled area hotels to capacity and further boosted the area's economic well-being.

The arrival of 5,000 visitors during the September 1995 chiropractic centennial made an economic input of about $7.5 million overall, according to previous figures released by the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Crowds of more than 10,000 people attended special centennial events at The Mark of the Quad Cities. Palmer College treated alumni, community leaders and friends of the college to concerts by Ray Charles in 1995 and Marvin Hamlisch and the Temptations last year.

After last year's centennial, Mr. Betz said many restaurant owners reported it was their best week of business in more than 30 years, Mr. Betz said.

Palmer College is in the midst of a three-phase, multi-million-dollar renovation project designed to make its campus on top of the Brady Street hill a showplace, Dr. Strang said.

The college's philosophy of health care, instead of disease care, also helps make Palmer's future bright, Dr. Strang said, as he prepares to celebrate his 50th year of being involved with Palmer as a student, alumni or administrator.

``The idea of staying well, instead of getting well after you're already sick, has been the focus of chiropractic since day one,'' he said.

It doesn't mean they disparage other medical professions.

``We recognize the importance of medical care, and I don't feel there's really much in competition,'' Dr. Strang said. ``Medicine is based on diagnosis and treatment of a disease, and they are very good at what they do.''

However, such an approach does little to prevent a person's early departure from good health, he said.

Chiropractic is the largest non-invasive, drug-free, health-care profession in the United States and second-largest health-care method in the world.

Yet, it started humbly when Daniel David Palmer performed his first ``adjustment'' on a deaf janitor in an office building in Davenport in 1895. The adjustment improved custodian Harvey Lillard's hearing, but more importantly launched a healing philosophy eventually to be heard by people around the world.

Two years after the first adjustment, Dr. Palmer opened the Palmer Infirmary and Chriopractic Institute in Davenport. The profession now boasts more than 50,000 doctors of chiropractic, 18 chiropractic colleges in the United States alone and millions of devotees around the world.

-- By Leon Lagerstam (February 2, 1998)

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