The University of Utah has announced a $47.5 million commitment from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation for a state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital as part of the redevelopment and modernization of the university's health sciences campus.
Expected to serve as a catalyst for the further development of the university's rehabilitation programs, the 75-bed facility will feature interior and exterior spaces designed to promote emotional well-being for patients during their physical rehabilitation. To be named after Neilsen, the hospital is expected to be completed in the spring of 2020.
Neilsen, who died in 2006, earned an MBA ('64) and law degree ('67) from the university. In 1985, a car accident left him paralyzed from the neck down and with only minimal use of one hand. Prior to the accident, Neilsen was the owner of a successful construction and real estate development business in southern Idaho and had recently acquired control of two small casinos on the Nevada-Idaho border. Following his injury, he founded and expanded Ameristar Casinos, which he took public in 1993. In 2002, Neilsen established the foundation, which, according to the university, is the largest private supporter of spinal cord injury-related causes in North America.
"The Neilsen Foundation's gift enables us to reimagine rehabilitative care by embracing the diverse ideas and skills of the entire University of Utah community," said Jeffrey Rosenbluth, the Craig H. Neilsen Presidential Endowed Chair for Spinal Cord Injury Medicine. "Faculty, students, and staff with diverse backgrounds in rehabilitation, engineering, computer science, exercise, therapy, and design will work side by side with our patients in this collaborative space. These teams will push the boundaries of recovery and quality of life after even the most severe injuries and disease processes. Technology has absolutely revolutionized this field and will continue to do so. We designed this building to accelerate that innovation."