HTE correspondent Marty Kauchak provides details of one of the community’s newest simulation facilities.

It’s been an eventful two months at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City. This September, the hospital celebrated its 100th anniversary. And this October, the general medical and surgical hospital opened the new Simulation Center in the Cancer Center building.

Tamara Schwichtenberg MS, BSN, RN-BC, the director of Clinical Practice, Informatics & Education at the facility, pointed out the new simulation center has two simulation rooms, one is a replica of the inpatient rooms in the hospital outfitted with a ceiling lift, electrical, oxygen, suction, cardiac monitoring and other features in the patient rooms. “The second room, a specialty room, is also set up as a patient room but is larger and has more flexibility such that it can replicate a critical care room, a labor, delivery, recovery room, or an emergency room.”

The larger specialty room allows groups of learners during orientation to observe and practice skills such as operation of the hospital bed and its safety features, use of ceiling lifts and other safety equipment used during patient transfer. Schwichtenberg noted a control room is between the two rooms set 16 in. (.4m) higher than the patient rooms. “This elevation allows better direct viewing into the rooms in addition to the operation of stationary and pan-tilt zoom cameras. The debriefing room is equipped with Laerdal Sim View for audio visual recording and playback of simulations. Additionally we have dedicated space for moulage prep and storage.”

The vendors used for the manikins are Laerdal and Gaumard.

Asked about the learning audiences to be supported at the new facility, the community expert responded, “The target audiences are all disciplines (clinical and non-clinical such as security, leadership, housekeeping, clinical engineering etc.) in the hospital, medical clinics, hospice and home care. Our goal is to use the simulation center not only for learning of a new skill or skill validation but also to use it for problem solving when there has been an injury or incident.”

At the top of Schwichtenberg’s short list of lessons learned to convey to the broader community was space, “which is always a premium in a hospital, the simulation center space was made available through downsizing the medical library.” Further, key resources and disciplines such as construction services, education, clinical nurse specialist, medical residency and fellowship faculty, clinical engineering, information services were involved in the research, planning and design of the simulation center. “Involvement of these disciplines was critical to broaden the focus, imagine the possibilities for use and commit to the success of the simulation center,” she said and continued, “Our facility had a unique opportunity to save costs in equipment because we are in a multi-year construction project updating and converting semi-private rooms to private. This construction project has resulted in the availability of equipment and supplies such as hospital beds, over bed tables, chairs, ceiling lifts etc.”

Schwichtenberg was also conversant about early returns on investment at the simulation center, noting savings have been achieved through on-line training for the education coordinators, with free courses provided by Laerdal on the use of the manikins and audio video equipment. “Training costs have been reduced through elimination of staff travel time between hospital campuses for the specialized instruction on hospital bed use and safety, use of safety equipment for patient transfers. Improvements in patient and staff safety have been achieved related to patient transfer,” she emphasized.