Occupational Therapy Center

Occupational Therapy Center

About the Eileen Berke Occupational Therapy Center

A traditional style, Cincinnati home was donated to the Cincinnati State Occupational Therapy Assistant program. The house was gifted by Eileen Berke, with the purpose of converting it into a demonstration home. The home will show students, consumers, healthcare professionals and all those working with aging and disabled persons, the products and services available to help individuals continue to live at home.  The Eileen Berke Occupational Therapy Center may well be the only home of its kind in the country to showcase how to alter an existing home versus building a new one.

The Eileen Berke Occupational Therapy Center houses the Cincinnati State Occupational Therapy Assistant program. The home provides the setting for small class lectures, labs, and other academic coursework. This provides students the opportunity to see how assistive technology and home modifications can be used to facilitate consumer independence and ease of use for caregivers. As a lab, the OT Center provides students with realistic, hands-on, experiential learning.

The Occupational Therapy Center will be available for local OT practitioners who are exploring options. Home visits can be scheduled to enable therapists and their clients the ability to try various assistive technology solutions and then select the best option.

The Occupational Therapy Center will conduct training classes to those in an array of professions, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, nursing, social work, medicine, and nursing home administration. Course topics could include Fall Prevention, Assistive Technology at Home, Gerontechnology, Bathroom Modifications, Universal Design Techniques and Ramp Design. These courses will fulfill healthcare professionals’ continuing education requirements for licensure. Additionally, the OT Center will be used to educate non-healthcare professionals about home modifications and assistive technology available to help persons with disabilities live at home. Courses for builders, EMS professionals, and others will be provided to increase awareness of the special needs of this population.

The Occupational Therapy Center will provide outreach services to the community, including house tours, assessments, and support group trainings. In addition, health related support groups and organizations can schedule meetings at the Center. A licensed occupational therapy practitioner will be available to discuss the products and modifications to the home.

The mission of the Center is to educate healthcare professionals and the public about the solutions available for those wishing to live at home despite disability or illness. Visitors will leave with practical solutions to meet their needs, as well as contact information for those who can help them. The Occupational Therapy Center will connect consumers and healthcare professionals to the solutions that will help people live at home despite a disability.

House Naming

The Center was named after Eileen Berke, who donated the property after suffering a stroke and subsequently  experienced the transformational effects of occupational therapy, thanks to dedicated Cincinnati State occupational therapy faculty members.  This generous gift has been the catalyst to enable Cincinnati State to educate students, community members, healthcare professionals and service providers who assist elders and persons with disabilities to continue to live safety at home. 

In grateful recognition of her generosity, the house was named the Eileen Berke Occupational Therapy Center.

History of the Center

In July of 2005, Eileen Berke suffered an extensive stroke, leaving her with weakness on the entire right side of her body. Eileen had been an active woman enjoying plays, concerts, water skiing, regular exercise and knitting – not to mention her full-time job as Chairman of the Board – Vice President of Administration for Cincinnati Subzero Products, Inc.  After the stroke, her life changed. She worked hard to regain her strength and re-engage in her life. She hired a personal care attendant to help with self-care tasks and to get around in the community. Until her stroke, Eileen had never spent time thinking about the challenges faced by persons with disabilities. After her stroke, her eyes were opened to the challenges of living at home with physical, cognitive or other impairments.

As it happened, Eileen had a family member working at Cincinnati State, who introduced her to Claudia Miller, Chair of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at the college. Claudia asked Eileen to participate in weekly class labs with her occupational therapy assistant students. In return, Eileen received complimentary OT “treatment” from Claudia.  The two developed a strong relationship which continued to grow as they worked together for the next two years.

Through the course of their weekly “treatment” sessions, Claudia shared her dream for an enhanced lab space for the students as well as an occupational therapy demonstration home for the community. During this time, the OTA faculty frequently visited homes for sale in the area to “scout out a home.” Then, one day Eileen called and said she found a donor for a house located across the street from the school.

When Claudia arrived at 918 Ludlow Avenue, she learned that it was Eileen herself who was donating the home to the Occupational Therapy Assistant program! The gift was given on one condition: it must be used as a demonstration home for the community, to share the impact of occupational therapy services.

In the summer of 2011, the Occupational Therapy Assistant program of Cincinnati State officially began moving into the house. In the fall of 2011, the first classes were begun and the house was officially named the Eileen Berke Occupational Therapy Center. Currently, the house is being renovated and equipped to showcase the latest state-of-the-art technology to increase awareness about how persons with disabilities, their caregivers and aging persons can live in their home for a lifetime.