Nayden Clinic Gets a Fresh Start

Patients, Students and Research Benefit

Physical Therapist Maryclaire Capetta (right)
Physical Therapist Maryclaire Capetta (right)

A new location, more space and additional technology are just some of the adjustments made at the Nayden Rehabilitation Clinic to launch it as an independent health care provider in eastern Connecticut and expand its services.

Until December, the clinic was affiliated with Windham Hospital, which was responsible for billing and administrative oversight. But now, with a major investment by the University of Connecticut and the state’s approval, the clinic is solely run by the Neag School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology.

“We’ve invested more than $1 million in upgrades and renovations,” said Morgan Hills, a licensed physical therapist who has been the clinic’s director for six years.

Last summer, the clinic moved from Dog Lane in Storrs to a newly renovated section of UConn’s Human Development and Family Relations Building on Bolton Road.

“We have more space to work with our patients in private or as a group, and we are equipped with new tools and technology to address our patients’ needs, while offering our physical therapy and athletic training students hands-on experiences that train them in the very latest techniques in care,” Hills explained.

With its new location near the Nathan Hale Inn and its pool, the Nayden Clinic now offers an aquatic rehab program and the Arthritis Foundation’s aquatic exercise program.

Physical Therapist Laurie Devaney demonstrates how the new mobilization table improves her ability to treat spine injury patients.
Physical Therapist Laurie Devaney demonstrates how the new mobilization table improves her ability to treat spine injury patients.

At the clinic, five large rooms are set aside for private patient care and two gym rooms are large enough for exercise and treatment requiring lots of open space.  A wound care room is equipped to handle a variety of lesion types, including the non-healing kind related to diabetes and infection wounds brought about by trauma. A recently purchased three-dimensional mobilization table enables special treatment techniques for the spine, allowing isolated motion of the head, trunk and legs.

Orthopedics was the whole idea behind the creation of the first clinic in 1998; then-Dean of Allied Health Joseph Smey set aside 600 square feet in Koons Hall and created a partnership with Windham Hospital for, as Hills puts it, “a little ortho clinic to teach orthopedics to physical therapy students.

In two years, the clinic out-grew the space. A gift from UConn Board of Trustees member Denis Nayden and his wife, Britta, a graduate of the Physical Therapy program, enabled the clinic to move into a building on Dog Lane in 2003.  It wasn’t long before a growing list of patients and the need for additional staff had the clinic management thinking about an even newer, bigger home.

“In 2006, we put together a five-year business plan that showed there was a market here,” Hills says, “and it suggested we look beyond orthopedics, to wound care, to neurological rehabilitation and to fulfilling our other missions of research and education.”

“This is a real-time, integrated education for our students. In this new facility, we’re instilling in them the desire to ask clinical questions and go answer them. That improves their decision-making ability and the quality of the profession.”

The new electronic record-keeping system, the Allscipts EMR, gives the clinic a more simplified billing process and a more efficient revenue stream, and Neag School researchers will benefit as well.

“The database allows us to configure clinical documentation in a way that ensures best practice and utilizes clinical information for research purposes,” Hills says. “This really gives us a chance to be entrepreneurial and helps us differentiate ourselves from our peer institutions.”

Expanding the Nayden’s role in clinical training and research was a key component in the recent merger of the Physical Therapy and Kinesiology departments. Their programs maintain a long, distinguished history of outstanding laboratory research, says Craig Denegar, head of the Physical Therapy department, but until now, they’d never had the opportunity to conduct bench-to-bedside research.

“We’re able to see first-hand, how findings in a lab affect patients in real life,” said Denegar. “We will be able to investigate the efficacy of our therapy in a controlled environment. With patient data we can also investigate the effectiveness of our work in a real world setting, and that’s exciting to us,” he said.

Other plans for Nayden include expanding services for neurological rehabilitation, stroke therapy, and potentially adding occupational and speech therapy; in short, the creation of a multi disciplinary rehabilitation center.

The Nayden Rehabilitation Clinic is open to the UConn community and those from surrounding towns. Details available at: or call  (860) 486-8080.

3 thoughts on “Nayden Clinic Gets a Fresh Start

  1. To Morgan or whomever it may concern,
    My husband Peter and I have both been clients of the Nayden clinic. We were both very concerned when we heard about the difficulties the clinic experienced when Windham determined a new way to manage their PT program. Peter did contact the University about the matter when it seemed possible that the clinic might not continue to operate. It appears that things have worked out.
    We are enthusiastic about the services you provide and would like to see the clinic continue to operate in connection to UConn.
    Best wishes for your continued success. Judy Halvorson

  2. Mr. and Mrs. Halvorson,

    Thank you for your concern about the staff and clinic. We have transitioned past WCMH, and we are now operating on our own. We hope that you have a safe, healthy and happy 2010.

    Morgan Hills
    Director, Nayden Rehab Clinic

  3. Morgan, you guys are 100% operating on your own? I was under the impression that the change wouldn’t be final until next month, but maybe I was mistaken.

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