On the afternoon of Monday, February 5, the newly renovated, expanded and aptly renamed College of Education and Rehabilitation (CER) Lab was unveiled to the University community. Double the size of the original space, moving forward, the former Independent Living Skills Lab will be utilized by all programs within the University’s College of Education and Rehabilitation
During the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dr. Barbara Schwartz-Bechet, interim dean of CER, thanked the administration, staff, faculty and program chairs who not only supported the initiative but were also influential in planning and designing the new space and teaching lab. Dr. Fabiana Perla, chair of the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies; Dr. Kathleen Youse, chair of the Speech-Language Pathology Program, and Dr. Lauren Sponseller, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy, participated in the ribbon-cutting alongside Dr. Schwartz-Bechet and Salus President Dr. Michael Mittelman.
“I continue to be amazed at our ability to grow still and always come up with new things,” Dr. Perla said. She also highlighted each faculty member and individual staff’s dedication to the project, which included rolling up their sleeves to pack materials or move equipment. “Each one has had their own hand and footprint in this project, so thank you everyone and enjoy,” she said.
A second bathroom suite complete with a sink, shower and toilet were new additions as well as a hospital bed and accompanying curtain which will enable more students to get a sense of helping individuals both in the home and in a hospital setting. The expansion of the space also allows for greater applied work with wheelchairs, walkers and other direct care physical needs.
Prior to the renovations, the University’s Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) program used the lab as their primary classroom and a training facility to teach VRT students adapted activities of daily living skills. The Occupational Therapy program’s students utilized the space for hands-on skills associated with certain populations, including transfer, functional mobility, assistive device and other activities of daily living skills. Now, with the addition of the hospital bed, the Speech-Language Pathology program will also have access to the space for swallowing and other lessons.
“All three of our programs will be able to use it more effectively,” Dr. Schwartz-Bechet said.
Dr. Mittelman agreed and praised the staff, faculty and students who will undoubtedly reap the benefits of the improvements as well as the patients they will care for in the future because of their increased training. “This is part of our evolution as a University and the progress that we are making,” he said. “This wouldn’t have gotten twice as big unless there was a demand for it, which is a direct result of the growth of the programs and a necessary tool that was needed.”