The University of Puget Sound has announced an $18,000 gift from the Franciscan Foundation that will pay for equipment for a new hospital simulation laboratory in the college’s center for health sciences, Weyerhaeuser Hall.

The gift will allow community members seeking therapy at the college’s public health clinic to learn how to safely use assistive devices, such as bed lifts, and high-tech environmental controls that they may need to support their care at home. The new equipment also will provide graduate students in the Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy programs with real-life experience in assisting such patients.

“One of the most important things to many of our public clients is that they are able to continue to live their lives fully and independently,” said Jennifer Hastings, director of physical therapy at Puget Sound.  “Thanks to the Franciscan Foundation, we will now be able to teach them and their caregivers how to use the equipment they need to ensure their safety and comfort.”

“We are delighted to assist in the creation of this new facility so that members of our community, who have suffered injury or illness, can gain the peace of mind of remaining in their own homes,” said Franciscan Foundation President Greg Unruh, a 1976 alumnus of Puget Sound. “This effort aligns closely with our mission of providing quality, compassionate care for all who walk through our doors, regardless of their ability to pay.”

The simulation lab will include medical devices such as feeding tubes, bed lifts, oxygen lines, catheter lines, and intravenous poles. It also will have specialty devices such as an electronic aid for daily living that is voice activated and interfaces with the hospital bed, lights, thermostat, television, phone, and other devices so that a patient with limited mobility can control the environment. Patient training will be administered by occupational therapy and physical therapy graduate students, under the close supervision of health care professionals.

Yvonne Swinth, director of occupational therapy at Puget Sound, said the simulation lab will give Puget Sound students valuable experience in working with patients who face mobility challenges due to chronic health problems or a traumatic event. The students will be better prepared for internships, fieldwork, the licensure exam, and for employment as therapists.