On Tuesday, September 30, more than 200 members of the community gathered at an open house to celebrate the grand opening of a state-of-the-art simulation laboratory and classroom space located within Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.
The Elmhurst College Simulation Center at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital is a 4,600-square-foot facility that serves nursing students and hospital staff and is available as well to first responders and other health care providers from around the region. The Simulation Center welcomed its first classes of undergraduate and graduate nursing students in August.
“Every serious nursing program needs a simulation center,” said Elmhurst College President S. Alan Ray. “Ours is embedded within Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, giving our students access to nursing staff and the environment of a medical facility. I’m thrilled for the value this will bring to our students.”
During the open house, guests toured the Simulation Center’s “health care environments,” which are built to replicate inpatient and outpatient settings. The simulation labs, which are equipped to look just like inpatient hospital rooms, house five life-size robotic simulated patients that can be programmed by faculty via a control room to display a range of symptoms and conditions.
The lab allows students to practice troubleshooting in real-life health care scenarios and get hands-on training in skills such as caring for wounds and giving injections. The Center also houses a home care lab, allowing students to practice care such as adapting a residential space for someone with a disability. Each learning space is equipped with cameras, allowing students to watch activities from the on-site conference room, classrooms on the College campus and even via cell phone or laptop.
The result of an innovative collaboration between Elmhurst College and Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, the Simulation Center is the only such facility in the region to have been established through this kind of health care/higher education partnership.
Elmhurst Memorial Hospital administrators say the center’s technologically advanced simulations are a valuable resource for both the hospital and community. “This laboratory is very exciting because it shows the growth of a community partnership between our hospital and the College,” said Pamela Dunley, vice president and COO/CNO of Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Elmhurst Memorial Hospital President and CEO Mary Lou Mastro referred to the center as the “future of patient care and technological innovations” that will help students and hospital staff “learn new techniques and ways to enhance patient care.”
Faculty and students began using the facility in August and are “elated” with the experience, said Laury Westbury, director of the Simulation Center, noting the Center’s real-world environment. “Students forget they are in an education course, so they are able to care for their ‘patients,’ the mannequins, in a realistic way.”
The Simulation Center will also be available to hospital employees and other area health care providers, providing additional value both for Elmhurst nursing students and the local health care system. “The hospital employees and the students can be involved in simulated learning experiences together,” explained Westbury. “It’s a wonderful way to stress teamwork in the health professions—and it aligns with the Center’s tagline of ‘working together for patient safety.’”