Munroe-Meyer Institute celebrates new home
New Omaha location positions institute to create a new standard in care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. On June 8, the Munroe-Meyer Institute cut the ribbon on its new home at 6902 Pine St., near the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Scott Campus.
The new building is more than double the size of MMI’s former home, providing critical room for growth of existing programs and the development of innovative new ones, ample parking, entrances and a floor plan designed to accommodate the needs of the individuals MMI serves.
“With this new building, MMI is positioned as never before to support the intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) community as it strives for awareness, acceptance and opportunity,” MMI Director Karoly Mirnics, MD, PhD said. “This building will fuel a palpable change in the IDD community and in the wider community as well as we work together toward those goals.”
About the building
Designers and contractors used careful design choices to enhance the MMI experience for families served and create a more inclusive experience.
The new features include, but are not limited to:
- An environment that both appeals to children yet does not feel only child-oriented to clients across the lifespan. This environment accommodates an operational shift to bring the families to one space and have each provider come to them, also enhancing multidisciplinary collaborations and elevating coordinated treatment plans.
- Dental, optical and healthy nutrition and wellness clinics to help patients get needed services from specialists who understand their unique needs, including an optical shop, a panoramic X-ray machine and three negative-pressure dental rooms to ensure airborne isolation during dental procedures.
- An integrated Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (iCASD) that is nearly double its current capacity, moving from three to six early intervention classrooms and doubling the number of severe behavior treatment rooms.
- Adventuresome, accessible play spaces inside and out, all built for making friends while building skills and strengths.
- An indoor splash pad, including several memorial fixtures that MMI clients will recognize from the outdoor splash pad at the old building.
- A dedicated maker space that includes a 3D printer, precision cutting and drilling devices, soldering equipment and other tools – enough to create nearly any assistive device, such as orthotics, support devices or other items used to assist in the performance of daily activities, that a determined therapist can imagine.
- A family resource area, which offers seating, Wi-Fi and easily supervised access to the indoor playground for visiting families.
- A kiln for recreational therapy art programs, to create pottery and glass art, some of which will be sold in the gift shop.
- A soundproof audiology booth, staffed by trained audiologists, to allow for on-site hearing checks.
- A pool area that features two pools, allowing for both specialized therapy and fun, with a water slide and even a water volleyball net adding to the excitement.
- A gym and other exercise opportunities to help encourage physical activity, leading to longer, fuller lives.
- An outdoor vegetable garden for classes or relaxation and skill development.
- Clinic areas, including the iCASD, which provide families with carefully considered, sensory-friendly environments and spaces for cooperative, multidisciplinary, family-centric teams to gather.
- Clinical rooms with adjustable colored lighting to enhance a visitor’s sense of well-being.
- Observation areas, including a walkway that overlooks both the pool area and the gymnasium, rooms equipped with cameras and additional camera technology even available on smartphones, so parents and caregivers can extend needed independence to their loved ones, while still keeping a watchful eye.
- A larger sensory-motor laboratory, to provide cutting-edge services and research.
- A virtual reality lab that will include an omnidirectional treadmill, which lets a person move in any direction, allowing MMI engineers to transport one into battles against aliens or other immersive experiences. In collaboration with physical and occupational therapist, MMI has developed VR/AR software of a realistic hair salon and airplane to help prepare children for the real-life experience - or any other therapeutic scenario MMI innovators can dream up.
- An inviting outdoor plaza, featuring sculptures, benches and picnic tables, which serves as an open and welcoming space for those arriving for a visit.
- A meditation room to improve relaxation and mental wellness.
- Sheltered “escape coves,” some large enough to accommodate wheelchairs, tucked into the side of hallways, offering a haven for when it is all too much and a client, parent or family needs a moment to gather themselves.
- A simulated apartment space including a kitchen area, living space, bedroom and accessible bathroom, which allows people to work on independent living skills with physical, occupational and speech therapists, among others.
- Multiple conference rooms designed to host inclusive functions, including a large conference room that can seat nearly 100 people.
- Community rooms for use by MMI’s community partners, set just off the main entrance for visibility and accessibility, to provide MMI visitors with even more support and information about other community resources. Current plans call for the rooms to be available for partners’ use five days a week, providing more access for clients and enhancing collaboration.