First of its kind medical training facility opens at Riverside Methodist Hospital

Columbus 09 June 2005Riverside Methodist Hospital has opened the Center for Medical Education + Innovation, (CME+I), a prototype training centre that incorporates some of the world's most advanced health care simulation technologies available. The new Center is a comprehensive medical training facility featuring innovative human patient simulation and education technologies, many of which have never been used outside the military. The Center has been lauded as the first of its kind in the world.


"The future of medical education is reality today at Riverside", stated Bruce P. Hagen, president of Riverside. "The impact that the programmes and technologies will have on the quality of medical education and patient safety overall will be dramatic."

Medical professionals will be able to follow patient simulators from one environment to the next, such as the transition from an emergency paramedic response site to an emergency room to an operating room. Additionally, they will be able to train as "teams" to achieve the highest levels of clinical integration and excellence. Team training is often cited as an essential element in addressing patient safety concerns.

"The Center allows us to take immediate steps to enhance the skills of resident physicians and nurses by utilizing these simulated settings", stated Pamela J. Boyers, Ph.D., director of Medical Education at Riverside. "By using challenging clinical scenarios, they will have the opportunity to learn new procedures and techniques with a human patient simulator before going to the bedside of a real patient."

The 20.000-square-foot facility is located on the fourth floor of Riverside's McConnell Heart Hospital and features the Virtual Care Unit (VCU). Utilizing technology originally used by the military and developed by Medical Education Technologies Inc. (METI), the VCU was created by the Riverside medical education team and consists of four separate hospital environments: an operating room, a trauma unit, an ICU room and a standard patient room. Each has its own advanced, human patient simulator, some capable of more than 72.000 physiologic responses. The VCU features four adult and one paediatric simulator as well as one of the world's first infant simulators.

At the core of the VCU is a central control room with one-way windows where "drivers" will be able to run separate scenarios in each of the rooms simultaneously or raise the walls between the rooms for mass casualty exercises. Activity in the room will be recorded with cameras and patient responses on computer for later review and assessment. It will also be possible to recreate actual hospital cases in the VCU.

"Patient simulation opened the door for medical professionals to practise and perfect their roles in a safe environment", stated Lou Oberndorf, president and CEO of METI. "Yet, from first responders arriving on the scene, treating and transporting, to nurses in the ER, to doctors in the OR to post-op and so on, it has remained nearly impossible until now to create scenarios that sufficiently allow medical professionals to step outside their individual professions and practise as a team, just as it would be in real life."

The Cardiac and Endovascular Simulation Lab, called the SimSuite, is one of the first such systems in the country and was developed by the Medical Simulation Corporation. The system will enable physicians and other health care professionals to practise delicate, catheter-based procedures such as balloon angioplasties and stent placements in an incredibly realistic environment. "Simantha", the patient simulator, will offer verbal feedback about how she is "feeling" while vital sign monitors will react to various medications and procedures.

The Laboratory Skills Center (LSC) is a centre with a variety of clinical simulators including:

  • airway management trainers for intubations;
  • laparoscopic trainers for practising minimally invasive surgical techniques;
  • pelvic exam trainers where even the pressure of a doctor's hand touching an ovary can be measured;
  • a microvascular lab for practising suturing techniques, tendon reattachments, etc.;
  • and an ob-gyn patient model where teams can practise skills for delivering babies.

In the Patient Exam Rooms, health care professionals will work with actors to improve their communications and interpersonal skills to improve bedside manner. "This new world of simulated patients and environments gives us a chance to practise complex medical scenarios over and over again", stated Edward Bope, MD, medical director of the Family Practice Residency Programme at Riverside. "It's a whole new way for doctors and nurses to train side by side to improve the care we deliver to our patients. Its potential is very exciting."

The $3 million cost to build and equip the centre as well as another $2 million for operational expenses was a gift from a foundation fund started more than thirty years ago by the Riverside medical staff. "This centre is truly a physician-led initiative", stated Marshall Vary, MD, chief medical officer at Riverside. "Riverside physicians 30 years ago recognized a need to improve the way we teach medicine and began building the resources for a new vision. Today's physicians developed that vision and led the way to bring CME+I to life."

Riverside is a member of OhioHealth, a nationally recognized, Columbus-based, not-for-profit, charitable organisation serving and supported by the community. It is a family of hospitals, health and surgery centres, home-health providers, medical equipment and other health service suppliers throughout a 46-county area. Other OhioHealth hospitals in central Ohio are Grant Medical Center and Doctors Hospital of Columbus. In 2004, U.S. News & World Report named Riverside one of "America's Best Hospitals" for heart and heart surgery and for cancer care.

Leslie Versweyveld

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