Ribbons were cut on the doors of three, new occupational therapy (OT) labs Tuesday, Dec. 7, as students, faculty, staff and guests celebrated the grand opening of the state-of-the-art facilities in Hegeman Hall.
Construction of the labs took place in the summer, thanks to funding from the Booth Ferris Foundation ($150,000) and George I. Alden Trust ($43,000). While the open house marked the formal opening, upperclassmen in Keuka’s OT program have been able to use the labs since the start of the fall semester.
Calling for a joint cheer, Carolanne Marquis, chief operating officer and executive vice president cut the first ribbon, followed by junior Emily Conrad, a resident of Geneva, and Carrie Roberts ’03, who serves as an OT at the Keuka Lake School in Penn Yan.
Each lab simulates different therapy environments, said Vicki Smith, professor and chair of OT. Smith praised OT faculty members for “the dreams they put on paper,” and all the work they put in to make the project happen.
The clinical skills lab features free weights, hot packs in a hydroculator (warm water unit), a mini trampoline, exercise balls, examining tables, and more—much like what one might encounter in the physical therapy areas of a hospital.
In contrast, the community skills lab has a warm, homey atmosphere, with a small kitchen area, living room area, bedroom, bath and mat-covered tables that fold down from the wall. Here, students can practice transfer of a wheelchair-bound patient into a bed, onto a special seat in the shower, or from a living room recliner into a wheelchair. Tables are at a lower height and there is plenty of open space under kitchen countertops and even a true-to-life door between the bed and bath areas.
“The focus is on functional mobility between spaces,” such as maneuvering a walker or wheelchair around a house, said Carolyn Teter, assistant professor of OT and neurological rehab instructor.
The pediatric play lab sports splashes of color on walls and carpet, with a giant orange swing, positioning equipment, a motor planning and balance climbing system, a mood and light sensory system, and tactile sensory room that can be modified for a variety of client needs.
The pediatric lab also features a driving simulator, a ball pit and a Wii gaming system, which provides treatment for both pediatric and geriatric patients.
“Very few schools have this much equipment. At most colleges, you’re lucky to have a bed to practice transfers, let alone a Hoyer lift,” said Professor of OT Carmela Battaglia, referring to the free-standing mechanical unit that aids a therapist in moving a patient.
“The most fulfilling thing is actually seeing OT students working in the labs,” said sophomore Brandon Cohen, a resident of Marlboro, N.J. “Even though I’m not to that level yet, I can see other students who have achieved it.”
Seniors Jamie Caldwell, a resident of Warren, Conn., and Kendra Walsh, a resident of Wellsburg, like that they have the ability to practice “real world” techniques before they get jobs.
Fellow classmate Courtney Potochniak says she likes the pediatrics lab best, since she wants to work with children.
“The tools in the labs will help me be better prepared for my job as an OT,” said Potochniak, a resident of Endicott.