Same symptoms: Simulation lab trains medical workers
SOUTH BURLINGTON — A group of people wearing white coats surrounds the hospital bed on the fifth floor of Fletcher Allen Medical Center in South Burlington
The pressure is on as the patient's heart rate flatlines and the small computer monitor next to the bed gives a long beep. Emily Glick, a third-year medical resident, orders her team to begin CPR as the patient's mouth starts to turn blue.
For Glick, this is not her first time dealing with what doctor's call a “code,” an emergency alert to hospital staff that a patient requires immediate medical attention, but it is very stressful.
But Glick can wipe her brow because it is not a real patient on the bed; instead it is a high fidelity mannequin that simulates trauma. The mannequin is a member of Fletcher Allen's Clinical Simulation Lab that opened in March, allowing aspiring medical professionals at the hospital and the University of Vermont the ability to practice certain procedures so that they will have more confidence the first time they perform the same procedures on a patient.
“It is real enough,” said Glick. “The hands-on learning that you do in the (simulation) lab is really invaluable.”
Glick and the other medical residents, fellows and interns in her team will have the opportunity to do more “mock codes” twice a month thanks to the lab. For some, who are only in their first few weeks on the hospital floor, this is the only experience they have had in a stressful medical situation.
“In a mock code you get reminders of a real code when it's a lot more chaotic and stressful,” said Glick.
The lab, which cost just over $4 million, was funded by donations as well as a $1.75 million federal grant.
The federal grant, which was secured by Sen. Patrick Leahy, was used to buy four adult mannequins, a birthing mother simulator, and a five-year-old simulator, as well as two trauma simulators and 25 task trainers, each of the 25 specifically designed to train for one specific procedure.
Leahy applauded the lab, saying that he hopes it will allow nurses, doctors, medical students and members of the Vermont Guard the ability to train in an advanced learning environment.
Dr. Michael Ricci, director of clinical simulation, said the lab's benefits have already begun to show.
“We always had a low rate of infection, but we have seen an 81 percent decrease in the infection rate,” said Ricci.
The lab has a yearly operating budget of approximately $1 million, a cost which is split by Fletcher Allen and UVM.
But splitting the cost is only the beginning of the collaboration between the two. Ricci describes the lab as a “unique collaboration,” saying the lab is invaluable to the training of medical, nursing and health sciences students as well as current Fletcher Allen doctors, residents and interns, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and also Vermont's Army Guard and Air Guard members.
The simulation lab will invite in members of the public as part of the hospital's “Doctor for a Day” project. Five winners will be chosen to perform virtual surgeries and simulated trauma events. Those interested in participating can enter by “liking” Fletcher Allen on Facebook before Friday, July 22.
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