Labs Renovated
Labs Renovated

Occupational therapy and physical therapy students arriving for the fall semester will be greeted with stunning, new state-of-the-art lab facilities and freshened classrooms.

With the School of Dentistry’s move out of the Dr. Harry N. and Maude Boyne building over the summer, space had come available for an expansion to the OT and PT lab spaces and accompanying classrooms.

And, given the steady rise in demand for those programs among prospective students, the time certainly was right from an enrollment perspective. The lab expansion will allow the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions to increase its PT class size to 80 – and will allow both disciplines more breathing room, as well as the benefits of the latest technology housed in an aesthetically pleasing environment.

The location is familiar. The ground level of Boyne still will be home to the OT and PT labs. But what was once a single lab space, shared between the two disciplines, now becomes four labs, with two dedicated to each discipline and specialized for their respective professions.

Tracy Monahan, SPAHP senior administrator and finance director, helped lead the project, which – with guidance from Creighton architect Coale Johnson – was planned for four phases.

Temporary lab space and faculty offices were set up in the Cardiac Center and had served as OT and PT headquarters since March. That’s when construction went into full tilt.

When the dust settled in Boyne’s lower level, the old “Sarah’s place” cafeteria had moved to the second floor of the Health Sciences Library, the OT lab completed its move back to Boyne in April, and PT followed suit at the beginning of August. Faculty offices will return to Boyne over fall break.

Michelle Reilly, DPT’08, assistant professor of physical therapy, said the new PT lab space is used for all hands-on learning experiences while students are on campus.

“We’ll have everything from first-responder courses to pediatric interventions to our pro-bono clinic,” she said.

The PT space features a mix of large mat tables used primarily for rehabilitation related to neurological conditions, she said, and plinth tables that are used for musculoskeletal conditions.

Included in the renovation are new hydraulic plinths, additional storage, private treatment spaces and swings for pediatric patients. Audio-visual capabilities also are significantly improved, with twice as many monitors as before, enabling students to watch demonstrations from virtually anywhere in the lab.

“The lab is really ‘home base’ for our students,” Reilly said. “They spend so much time there – it becomes practice space, social space as well as classroom space.”

The OT labs have been up and running since April, with Anna Domina, OTD’04, assistant professor of occupational therapy, helping to lead the renovation effort, which has resulted in two larger lab spaces that allow separate focus on rehabilitation in one, and pediatrics and splinting in the other.

New features include hooks for demonstration of swings and suspended equipment in the pediatric lab, as well as additional monitors and a specialized camera that allows for close-up projection of manual movements and hand placements for manual therapy techniques.

New technology has faculty excited, Domina said, and provide students with better opportunities for application of their skills.

“It opens up new ways of teaching that the previous lab space did not support,” she said. “These new lab spaces will only continue to enhance the quality of education that Creighton offers.”

Beyond the collective lab space expansion and retooling, the project included classroom remodeling, complete with bright, fresh paint and new carpet in place of worn tile floors.

Monahan said initial reactions have been resoundingly positive.

“Students are thrilled, and faculty are thrilled,” she said. “It’s really come a long way – space-wise, equipment-wise, technology-wise.”

Many faculty and staff members within SPAHP and across campus contributed to the project.