SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah unveiled its state-of-the-art Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital to the public Monday. The hospital has been open to patients for one year, but it couldn't be unveiled until today due to COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures.
"We really built this facility to transform care here in the mountain west and beyond for those recovering from traumatic injuries and other disabling conditions," said Dr. David Steinberg, the executive medical director at the hospital, during a press conference Monday.
The new 172,000 square foot hospital features the latest innovations and technology in rehabilitation medicine.
"We have smart hospital rooms that have never before been, [with] this type of technology, utilized," Steinberg said. "We have innovations in areas like our digital innovation lab and assistive tech lab, and our spaces downstairs where we really do some fabrication for our Trails adaptive sports equipment."
Steinberg said some of the tech in the hospital is one of a kind in Utah, and the world.
"We have an augmented reality treadmill called the C-mill. The only one in the state of Utah," he said. "And the therapy gyms are just amazing. We have the longest Zero G track in the world for body weight therapies."
The hospital's digital innovation lab allows patients to utilize virtual reality and augmented reality technologies to help assist in their recovery.
Monday was the one-year anniversary since the hospital opened its doors. It hadn't been unveiled to the public to help minimize the risk of exposure to the coronavirus for hospital staff and patients.
"Our first patients were admitted in May of 2020," Steinberg said. "To open a facility in the middle of the COVID pandemic has been quite a challenge, but it's been a real honor to welcome patients like Sarah and her family."
Sarah Frei, a former patient at the hospital, has inspired people around the world as she works to recover from a devastating car wreck in 2020 that was caused by a drunk driver. Frei is now a paraplegic and double amputee.
"I loved it here at this rehab center," she said. "It just felt so just open, and I just felt so comfortable and all of the physical therapists and occupational therapists, everyone was just so nice."
Frei spent about a month at the hospital after the wreck.
"Even though my body has changed so much and after the accident I can still do fun things," she said. "This rehab center is kind of where that all started and where I figured that out."
Steinberg said the hospital is a big benefit not only to Utah, but to the Intermountain West as a whole.
"This allows us to bring technologies and care to patients who otherwise would have to travel very far out of state to get these types of treatments," he added.