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Fort Memorial Hospital simulated learning lab receives local grants

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In a recent communication, Dean Johnson, president of Nasco International, has informed representatives of Fort HealthCare of a $75,000 award earmarked for equipment purchases related to the proposed simulation teaching and training laboratory at Fort Memorial Hospital. The funds will allow Fort HealthCare to create the lab and purchase a variety of whole body adult and infant mannequins capable of responding in real time to certain medications, chest compressions, needle decompression, chest tube placement, and other medical interventions through integrated computer technology. The mannequins will serve as the primary teaching and training tool at the Fort HealthCare Learning Center. The donation is a cash award from The Aristotle Corporation Charitable Gift Trust. In addition, a bequest of $10,000 for the Learning Center has been made by the Kachel Family Foundation. These generous contributions will be supplemented by a $21,000 donation by the Fort Memorial Hospital Foundation using proceeds from the recent Derby Day Gala.

Renee Clark, vice president for nursing services and performance improvement at Fort HealthCare has made significant progress in bringing the Learning Center to fruition. Plans call for the creation of a comprehensive and technologically advanced hospital-based training lab open to area physicians, nurses and other medical professionals interested in using computer-controlled simulation technology to learn, practice and repeat procedures as often as necessary to correct mistakes, fine-tune skills and optimize clinical outcomes. In the Learning Center setting, clinicians can develop and refine their skills without compromising the safety of real patients. The training facility is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

According to Clark, “Health care education has always relied on training with real patients in actual clinical settings. While hands-on learning will continue to be indispensable, medical and nursing educators are increasingly concerned about the safety of patients. With simulated learning experiences, medical and nursing students, residents, and practicing providers have the opportunity to develop and refine their skills using simulation technology — without putting patients at risk.”

A healthcare simulation specialist will conduct the training scenarios and monitor participants through indirect observation via an adjacent control room. A formal debriefing of the learning experience follows each simulation session where participants reflect on training activities, decision-making processes, positive and negative outcomes as well as alternative approaches. The Learning Center will also allow Fort HealthCare staff to safely evaluate new equipment as it is introduced to staff or a policy or process change prior to implementation.

Deb O’Hay, a registered nurse and educational services coordinator at Fort HealthCare has also been instrumental in planning for the Learning Center. “Simulation isn’t just about the task or the most technologically advanced equipment. It is about blending training mannequins, actors and staff to create a learning experience in a one hundred percent safe environment”, she said. “Simulation not only allows for learning of tasks and processes, but also for learning interpersonal skills, communication, and a better understanding of the emotional impact of critical situations as they affect staff and patients.”

Nursing and other medical specialty education has long relied on simulation to teach the most current principles of care. Models of anatomic parts and whole body mannequins such as those available from Nasco International and their suppliers have changed dramatically in recent years with the development of the human patient simulator. Funding made available from the Nasco, Kachel Family Foundation and the Fort Memorial Hospital Foundation will allow for the purchase of a variety of realistic mannequins and body parts.

The heart of the Learning Center equipment needs is the Smart Stat Manikin, a full-body adult mannequin designed to train emergency providers, nurses and others in cardiac care, medical disease care and trauma care. The instructor can control the medical scenario using a portable computer, changing the patient’s symptoms to introduce complications and emergent symptoms. The Susie and Simon Newborn Advanced Care Simulator is a gender-interchangeable neonatal pediatric mannequin who’s life-like appearance allows students to train in heel stick and finger prick techniques, male and female catheterization, intramuscular injection, bathing and bandaging activity and more. Additional items to be purchased include an advanced venipuncture and injection arm, a geriatric IV training arm, a “Fat Old Fred” mannequin that represents the older, obese patient and an infant intubation head.

As Fort HealthCare’s leader for nursing services and performance improvement activities, Clark greatly anticipates the opening of the Learning Center as a safe and effective locale for experiential education and training. “When the lab opens later this year, Fort HealthCare will have a critical service that other hospitals our size find to be unavailable. I believe we are paving the way for how rural health care facilities will want to train employees in the future. This is such a fantastic resource for Fort HealthCare physicians and staff, for our patients, and for the community as a whole”, she added.

Nasco’s Johnson is similarly pleased with the direction Fort HealthCare has taken to enhance the training and clinical care available to the community. “Clearly, Fort HealthCare and Nasco place great value on the creation of a simulation lab for healthcare professionals serving our community. We welcome the opportunity to support this project, which we fully expect will have long-term positive influences on the quality of care and outcomes for our friends and neighbors in Jefferson County”, he said.