Elmhurst College: College to Build Simulation Labs in Elmhurst Memorial Hospital

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College to Build Simulation Labs in Elmhurst Memorial Hospital

An innovative collaboration between Elmhurst College and Elmhurst Memorial Hospital will enable the College’s nursing students to practice and build clinical knowledge and skills in a new, state-of-the-art simulation facility to be built within the Hospital’s lower level.

The 4,600-square-foot laboratory and classroom space, to be called the Elmhurst College Simulation Center at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, will create healthcare environments that represent inpatient, outpatient and community settings. The simulated learning space will provide the opportunity for students to practice protocols and procedures, and run through even the most intense scenarios, in safety and without risk to patients.

As one of the first higher-education institutions in the region to build such a facility in a hospital, Elmhurst College will be positioned to offer state-of-the-art education and training in the health sciences for years to come.

Staff members at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital—and, potentially, first-responders and other outside medical-service providers—also will be able to use the Simulation Center, for additional training and professional development.

“I am extremely pleased for Elmhurst College to be partnering with one of the leading healthcare providers in the country—Elmhurst Memorial Hospital,” said Elmhurst College President S. Alan Ray. “When completed, the Simulation Center will provide our nursing students and the nurses at the Hospital with a wealth of cutting-edge educational and additional training opportunities. This is a win-win for both of us.”

“I started off my career as a critical care nurse, where I learned several valuable lessons that I still use today, including the importance of communication in a healthcare setting,” said Mary Lou Mastro, President and CEO of Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare. “This Simulation Center will enable students to gain a solid medical knowledge base and apply that knowledge to clinical decision making in a complex simulated clinical event.”

The new Simulation Center will include:

  • Simulation labs. In these patient examination and treatment areas, students can practice various healthcare scenarios and work on “low-fidelity” skills such as wound care and giving injections. Elmhurst College’s “family” of life-size, robotic simulated patients, which can be programmed to exhibit signs and symptoms of conditions ranging from a fever to giving birth with complications, will take up residence here. 
  • Home care lab. Half of all nurses in practice today work outside of hospitals, often in community settings. In the home care lab, which includes a living room and residential bathroom, students can practice conducting a well-baby visit or adapting a home for someone recovering from or learning to live with a disability.
  • Control room. Hidden behind one-way mirrors, the control room is where simulation directors can reprogram and change the simulated patient’s condition without the students’ knowledge, creating very realistic exercises. 
  • Observation room. Because cameras will be installed in each of the learning spaces, students not participating in a simulation exercise will be able to observe it, not only from screens in the observation room but also on their cell phones and laptops. Equipment also will be installed to enable simulations to be broadcast directly into classrooms on the Elmhurst College campus.
  • Conference room. After a simulation exercise, students can debrief with faculty in the conference room/classroom.

Construction on the $1.4 million project will begin in January of 2014, and the facility is scheduled to open next fall.

“Healthcare is always evolving and the students of today will be the leaders of healthcare tomorrow. Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare is honored to be working with Elmhurst College to provide a state-of-the-art learning facility,” Mastro said. “Our goal is to help train these future medical professionals on how to provide quality and patient-centered care using best practices and advanced technology to best meet the needs of all patients.”

“I look forward to expanding the educational opportunities available not only to nursing students, but to any healthcare provider who wants to use state-of-the-art patient simulation to achieve professional training or development goals,” Ray said. “The real winners, of course, are the thousands of people whose health will be positively impacted by the level of expertise the Simulation Center will provide these caregivers.”

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