Western University of Health Sciences has purchased a former furniture warehouse in Lebanon, Oregon for use as classrooms, labs, research space, pro bono clinic, and offices for the College of Health Sciences (CHS).

“With this expansion, WesternU takes another step in its evolution as a leader in health sciences education in the northwest,” said WesternU President Daniel R. Wilson, MD, PhD. “We remain committed to our mission of educating tomorrow’s health care professionals with scientific excellence and a humanistic, compassionate approach to patient care. This new school will expand our mission in a time when health care professionals are needed more than ever before.”

CHS will welcome its first Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) class of 60 students in July 2021. A Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program is scheduled to enter its inaugural class in 2022.

The property was built in 1972 and is primarily large, open warehouse space formerly used as a furniture showroom. WesternU will completely renovate the building as a state-of-the-art learning environment with flexible design that includes three classrooms and labs with moveable walls to allow for active learning spaces, said WesternU Oregon Department of Physical Therapy Education Chair Chad Lairamore, PT, PhD.

“There will be a pro bono clinic to provide students authentic hands-on learning experiences while also giving back to the community by helping those in need,” Dr. Lairamore said. The services will be by students supervised by licensed physical therapists. “Pro bono clinic services will be offered free to patients as the clinic provides an authentic learning opportunity for students to apply and practice clinical skills while supervised by faculty who are licensed physical therapists.”

The site will also include a research space inclusive of a motion analysis lab where faculty and students will examine ways to improve patients’ ability to move and function. There will be an “activities of daily living space,” comprised of a fully-functioning bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, all designed to provide PT and OT students with a practical, real-world environment for assessment of patient safety, independence and task modification needs.

The goal is to complete renovations prior to the start of the academic year to allow for faculty and staff time to prepare for the welcoming of the inaugural class, Lairamore said.

The DPT program will be the second WesternU program to open in Lebanon. WesternU welcomed 107 students in the inaugural COMP-Northwest class in 2011. COMP-Northwest now has an enrollment of about 400 students at Pumerantz Circle, about 2 miles from the new property. CHS – DPT and OTD students will share the COMP-Northwest anatomy laboratories and other central services.

“CHS is proud to join COMP-Northwest in establishing the second WesternU college in Lebanon,” said CHS Dean Dee Schilling, PT, PhD, FNAP. “We look forward to becoming active members of the Lebanon community and expanding health care education and service.”

WesternU hit several milestones in a short timeframe. CHS submitted the DPT program’s application for candidacy to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) on Nov. 30, finalized purchase of the new site on Dec. 2, and recently accepted its first students into the program.

“It has been a team effort and very rewarding to see the program unfold as the result of passion and dedication,” Lairamore said. “The team has been extremely active meeting many deadlines in a very short period of time.”