By sharing space in a new facility, St. Luke’s University Health Network and Moravian College are teaming up to boost educational and job opportunities in athletic training and rehabilitation.
The site, once the home of Bethlehem’s 24-7 Fitness Club at 1441 Schoenersville Road, is now the Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Center.
Officials celebrated with a grand opening and ribbon cutting Wednesday afternoon, complete with tours of the outfitted space. The college owns the building; St. Luke’s is leasing the space.
The $6 million project offers 33,000 square feet for Moravian College and more than 10,000 square feet on the first floor for the hospital network’s sports medicine and physical therapy services.
“We are confident that with our partner, St. Luke’s University Health Network, we will develop the pre-eminent athletic training program in the region,” said Byron L. Grigsby, president of Moravian College.
In June, the center will offer space for Moravian College’s Master of Science in athletic training program. The college plans to develop doctorate programs in occupational therapy, athletic training and physical therapy and rehabilitation sciences in conjunction with St. Luke’s that will be delivered at the site. The occupational therapy program is expected to begin in June 2017.
The St. Luke’s physical therapist providers are dual-credentialed, and sports medicine specialists are fellowship-trained.
Athletic training is expected to be a growing occupation, with 21 percent job growth projected through 2022, according to statistics from Moravian College.
Moravian College’s space on the first floor will include academic areas for the athletic training program, including classrooms and lab spaces. The second floor includes community space for students to collaborate between classes, conference areas and office spaces.
“One of the … things about this collaboration is we have shared space,” said James Scifers, program director of athletic training and interim program director for physical therapy for Moravian College. Scifers is leading the development of the college’s master’s degree program in athletic training, launching this summer.
“By implementing these new programs, we are providing students with the opportunity to pursue three of the fastest-growing occupations in health care,” Scifers said, referring to athletic training, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
The center offers care for all types of athletes, from weekend warriors to professionals and those requiring rehabilitation of any type, said William De Long, chief of orthopedics for St. Luke’s.
The center has two classrooms and six specialized labs, which include strength testing equipment, orthopedic assessment, functional rehabilitation and splinting and casting.
Students are able to record data and review it on their own outside class, he added.
Other highlights include a distance-learning classroom, which allows students to attend class with a faculty member who can be anywhere in the world and instruct via a Skype-like device, Scifers said.
Another highlight is the therapeutic modalities lab, which includes the same hardwood floor from the former racquetball club and an apartment for simulated home health activities for patients.
Other features include an anti-gravity treadmill, light-emitting diode fixtures throughout and 16 giant television screens so students can see materials from anywhere in the classroom.
St. Luke’s will have about 25 employees at the site, including physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons and radiologists.
The facility took seven months to build, with J.G. Petrucci Co. Inc. of Bethlehem and Asbury, N.J., as the design builder and contractor.
Cerminara Architect of Hillsborough, N.J., designed the building and the programming of interior spaces.