CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)– 15th District Representative Glenn Thompson announced that Saint Francis University would receive $500,000 to help with the new occupational therapy building.

Thompson announced the news in front of occupational therapy students, faculty, university staff, and faculty Tuesday afternoon. This funding is through the Appropriation Bill, which is annual federal funding.

The President of the University, Father Malachi, said that the facility would include state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories. The upgrade goes further into their goal of providing advanced technology for their student’s future.

“Students from OT will collaborate with other healthcare students, just like they would in the real world,” Father Malachi said. “So this is going to prepare them all the more for when they step into their profession, and they’re working with a variety of healthcare professionals.”

Thompson spent many years working in healthcare before making the transition to Congress. He’s aware of the need for healthcare workers and the evolving use of technology within the healthcare industry.

Like Father Malachi, he believes that this new upgrade will prepare the students better when they enter the workforce. Additionally, he thinks this would benefit the county and region’s economic future through the jobs that students would acquire.

“This is an investment in the future healthcare needs of our community, our region,” Thompson said. “Quite frankly, wherever the students wind up delivering their skills, it’ll make a difference.”

First-year occupational therapy graduate student Louis Mihota is excited that the funding is going towards their program. He believes that the new add-ons will help with the multiple ways that students learn.

“All this work is being done to help us be the best occupational therapists we can be,” Mihota said. “I think that’s the goal of the school and its entirety, doing more so people around the world can get better help from us.”

Once the project is completed by summer 2023, Father Malachi expects the school to look more attractive to prospective students.

“They’re going to have the state-of-the-art facilities that they need. So, it’s going to elevate the profile of the program, and honestly, we think it’ll attract new students to the OT program,” Father Malachi said.

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“These future graduates of the Saint Francis Health Sciences program are going to be equipped with the experience and skills to be able to really step in and provide the help needed to healthcare services wherever they chose to be employed,” Thompson said.