Published on January 24, 2014

A High-Tech Learning Center

Genesis trains staff using simulators

  • The Genesis Learning Center has the flexibility to be adjusted to meet real-time needs of staff. In the photo, Deborah Edgeworth, RN, nurse manager of perioperative services, and Trista Cronkleton, perioperative assistant, use the simulator as part of a perioperative hypothermia project underway at Genesis that uses forced air warming to reduce risk of complications.
  • Nancy Ritter, RN, watches as Brittany Classen, RN, left, and Kelly Johnston, RN, right, insert an IV into a high-fidelity simulation mannequin in the new Genesis Learning Center.
  • Nurses work to resuscitate their “patient,” a medical mannequin, after a pretend code blue at the Genesis Learning Center. The center, located on the 6th floor at Genesis Medical Center, West Central Park, Davenport, gives clinical staff the opportunity to train and gain experience in a realistic setting without risk to a real patient.

Bud is a highly erratic patient who challenges the skills and knowledge of the health professionals providing treatment.

One minute he complains about chest pain. Minutes later, he may be displaying all the signs of obstructive sleep apnea, including occasional periods when he stops breathing.

In the next room, Jack has stopped breathing entirely, and CPR has begun. A care team scrambles to save Jack’s life.

Both patients will recover nicely, and remarkably quickly.

It’s a routine day in the Genesis Learning Center at Genesis Medical Center, West Central Park, Davenport.

Bud and Jack are high-tech, high-fidelity medical mannequins, or simulators. They are assisting in patient safety initiatives at Genesis by just being their erratic selves.

As many as 300 Genesis care providers in a single week have used the Genesis Learning Center since it opened last summer. Staff members use the learning center to sharpen skills, or learn new skills, without putting a human patient at risk.

Instead, it is the simulators who are treated for respiratory distress, heart attacks, traumas, post-surgical bleeding and a wide range of other conditions and disorders.

Practice benefits real patients, too

A nurse who wants to repeatedly practice a skill, such as drawing blood, performing CPR, inserting a catheter, or gastrointestinal intubation, can train using the simulators. Simulators are compliant, model patients.

Annette Holst, RN, and nursing staff development specialist, said a new nurse may never see a certain injury or condition in their nursing career but can be exposed to it in the learning center.

“When some of us were in nursing school, we used to practice skills on each other when we drew blood, for example,’’ explained Holst. “We didn’t have simulators available to us.

“Staff appreciates having more opportunities to practice skills and competencies. New Genesis nurses who are going through orientation have all of the skills learned from books. But what this next generation of nurses really is hungry for is hands-on experience in a high-tech environment.’’

New nurses or more experienced nurses who want to enhance their skills with a certain procedure or treatment can practice on the simulators.

The simulators give care providers clues about their condition through their comments. Phrases like “I don’t feel well’’ or “I have a headache’’ are programmed into the simulator’s computer system. There is also a live microphone available to add verbal responses from the simulator.

Customizable and flexible

Nancy Ritter, RN, and Lori Haugen, RN, are quite often listening and viewing from a control room.  They can watch what is going on in the patient rooms of the simulators. They can adjust the scenario as it progresses, worsening or improving the simulator’s condition.

“We can also record what is going on and mark a place we want to go back to in the recording,’’ Haugen said.

During the training sessions, Ritter and Haugen are able to talk with whoever is providing care and provide analysis and coaching. After the event, students watch the video.

“The debriefing is a very important step. We have a debriefing, watch the video and make suggestions about something the care provider might not have thought about,’’ Ritter said. “Quite often we talk and then try it again.’’

Because the Genesis Learning Center is located on a former patient floor, the simulators are in former patient rooms. Holst said the clinical setting makes the Genesis Learning Center realistic and different from most simulator centers.

“Sometimes a nursing school or hospital will have a simulator center, but it is an open space. Because this was a patient floor, it is a more realistic training experience,’’ Holst said.

The Genesis Learning Center has the flexibility to be adjusted to meet real-time needs of staff. For example, one of the simulators has been dedicated recently to train staff about perioperative hypothermia prevention.  Hypothermia of surgical patients puts the patients at higher risk for some complications, including:

  • Surgical site infection
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Perioperative blood loss, resulting in an increased requirement for blood transfusion
  • Longer post-anesthesia recovery
  • Increased mortality

Part of the perioperative hypothermia project underway at Genesis is the consistent use of forced air warming for surgery patients.

“There are a lot of great reasons why these warming gowns should be used for surgical patients,’’ explained Deb Edgeworth, RN, nurse manager of perioperative services. “By having the learning center, we can use the mannequins to train our staff very well.”

Because of its exceptional record for patient safety, Genesis Medical Center, Davenport, has been selected as the only hospital in the country to refine and evaluate a tool kit for the prevention of perioperative hypothermia. Genesis is in a collaborative agreement with the University of Iowa as part of a two-year, $600,000 grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Another current Genesis initiative is the identification of obstructive sleep apnea in hospital inpatients. If untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can increase the risk of serious complications in patients. The simulator nicknamed Bud is dedicated to sleep apnea at this time.

“The benefit to patients is meticulous, safe care by staff who have hands-on training in a clinical environment,’’ Holst said. “If the learning center helps us provide improved, safer care, better outcomes and shorter lengths of stay, it will be a great asset to Genesis and our patients.’’

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