New labs improve physical therapy assistant program

When Laramie County Community College started construction on the Health Science Building in 2006, there was not enough money to complete it fully, so the third floor was left as an empty shell.

Jerry Harris, LCCC director of contracting and procurement, said that last spring semester saw “a need for more room at the college due to increased enrollment,” so it was figured into the budget to fill in the Health Science Building’s third floor with classrooms and labs. The construction of the third floor started in late March and finished Aug. 1. Harris said the architects’ estimated cost of the construction was around $1 million, but the actual total cost of the design, construction, etc. was $1,129,650.

New labs give students more space

“There are two specific labs,” Harris said. “One is a computer lab, and the other is a physical therapy assistant lab.” Harris then explained the physical therapy assistant (PTA) lab used to be smaller and on the second floor of the Health Science Building, but because of increased enrollment in the PTA program and the success of the program, there was need to expand it. With the addition of the third floor, the PTA program has now tripled what it used to be, Harris added. “There is more space to accommodate students and more room for better equipment, which leads to better training.”

PTA director Doug Wilson said, “This lab gives the students room to move around and practice techniques with patients.” Wilson also said this lab and the new equipment in it put LCCC “as one of the premier PTA programs in the country.” He added this lab will help recruit students from around the country.

PTA instructor Holly Girmus said, “I wish I would have had a beautiful lab like this when I went to physical therapy school 23 years ago.” She also added this third floor shows the community and students LCCC “is committed in providing the best facilities in order to enhance student learning.” Wilson added the third floor was a “great investment” and showed “LCCC puts their students first.”

Additions help college overall

Girmus also said: “In order for anything to progress there has to be change. I think this shows that LCCC is committed toward progression in education.” She then added the new classrooms, lab space, new equipment, offices, etc. “all show that we are growing and changing toward a great future our students.”

Harris said the third floor helps not only the PTA program with the extra classrooms on the floor but also the college in general. “Teaching is more effective when students aren’t so crammed together,” Harris explained. He said the furniture in the rooms is designed to be moved so each classroom is more functional for different classroom needs, which allows for more opportunity for the college.

Also Harris said the computer lab can be used by anyone and office spaces (about eight) are used by other instructors. “This space was not designed specifically for Health Sciences. It’s to be used by the college as needed,” Harris added.

“The real impact of this addition for the college is for more efficient instruction,” Harris said. “Having more space improves the morale and the learning environment.”