Franciscan Foundation Gift Assists Patients Who Hope to Stay in Their Homes

August 26, 2013

Gift buys equipment for Puget Sound’s new hospital simulation lab in the occupational therapy and physical therapy public clinic

TACOMA, Wash. – University of Puget Sound is pleased to announce 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 timely 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.”

Every year Puget Sound’s public clinics provide some 300 patients, who have no current health care benefits or insurance, with low-cost or free treatment. Many are low-income or elderly patients who rely on a relative as the primary caregiver.

The hospital simulation laboratory in Puget Sound’s state-of-the-art Weyerhaeuser Hall will include medical devices such as feeding tubes, bed lifts, oxygen lines, catheter lines, and intravenous poles. It also will have sophisticated 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.

After completing their studies, about 85 percent of Puget Sound occupational therapy graduates and 50 percent of physical therapy graduates find jobs specifically in providing care in hospital rooms—many of them with Franciscan Health System.

In addition the laboratory will serve as a community resource. For example local therapists may come to the facility with a client to try out some of the equipment. Pacific Lutheran University nursing students who visit the clinic each semester for training in lifting and transferring of patients also will benefit. The patients themselves are able to try out the aids before buying them for their home.   

Weyerhaeuser Hall, which opened in fall 2011 and was funded through support of One [of a Kind] The Campaign for University of Puget Sound, was designed as an interdisciplinary facility that provides a space for teaching, research, clinical work, and public outreach for five health and behavioral sciences. These include physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, exercise science, and neuroscience.

The Franciscan Foundation, established in 1986, receives and administers charitable gifts made on behalf of Franciscan Health System. Its mission is nurturing the healing ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis and supporting the Franciscan Health System in creating healthier communities and ensuring the availability of quality health care for all.

For more about One [of a Kind] The Campaign for University of Puget Sound visit:

Photos on page: Clinic clients and Puget Sound professors and students work with therapeutic tools in the occupational therapy sessions in Weyerhaeuser Hall.

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