Constructing the Hospital of Tomorrow: The UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital

January 7, 2019

UPMC recently announced a $2 billion investment to build three new specialty hospitals in Pittsburgh: including the UPMC Heart and Transplant Hospital, UPMC Hillman Cancer Hospital, and the UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital. These patient-focused, technology-enhanced facilities will provide modern, cutting-edge clinical treatments in combination with multidisciplinary research capabilities for specific diseases and health conditions.

UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital Boulevard
UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital, which is anticipated to open in 2021,will co-locate synergistic research and clinical activities between the Departments of Ophthalmology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “The new rehabilitation facility will be a center of innovation and an incubator for new technologies. We’ll explore the healing power of biology and engineering through regenerative rehabilitation, robotics-assisted therapies, and personalized exercise-based approaches to help patients regain function as they recover. By centralizing the researchers, clinicians, and therapists in one location, we will not just impact patient care but create a roadmap for future research,” says Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

This new hospital will serve as a hub for patients with visual, mobility, and cognitive impairments in learning. Incorporating features such as the virtual apartment, city street, and rehabilitation garden
will help to create new paradigms of patient care, and at the same time utilizing technology-assisted rehabilitation services to implement early mobility initiatives. The new hospital also will include a state-of-the-art motion analysis laboratory. “I think the most important thing our new facility will accomplish is moving research personnel so they are right next to our clinical team. This means that the advanced technology we have only been using for research will become available to patients receiving treatment,” says Michael Boninger, MD, professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital Garden

The integration of research and clinical expertise at the hospital will lead to new research opportunities, and the translation of research findings across the Department. Researcher Jennifer Collinger, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, is excited about the opportunities the new facility will provide. “We will have the opportunity to combine the efforts of our basic science and clinical researchers who share common goals, namely understanding how disease impacts the body and how we can use treatments or therapies to restore function and quality of life,” says Dr. Collinger.