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Cottage Hospital Opens Simulation Training Lab

Life-like and potentially life-saving; A new set of tools is helping nurses, physicians and clinical staff train at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

They are mannequin simulators, but you might need to blink twice because they look more human-like than any mall mannequin you’ve ever seen and are likely to become some of the longest visiting patients at Cottage Hospital: Noelle and her newborn Hal, eight year old Sim Jr. and SimMan 3G.

“He can be intubated, he can seize, which he’s doing now,” said Simulation Coordinator Jennifer Granger, as the mannequin’s arms quivered.

Wireless technology allows them to mimic dozens of bodily functions from blinking and spontaneous breathing to a bloody nose, stomach issues and yes, urination.

If you think that’s fascinating, what until you see what Noelle can do.

“The abdomen is held on by velcro,” said Granger. “Noelle can blink and she can speak. She’s got heart rate, pulses and she breathes. She’s got heart sounds and lung sounds but her most impressive quality is by far, that she can deliver a baby.”

Natural, breach, even C-section.

“We insert a little fake blood underneath so when they make the cut, they actually get blood,” said Granger.

The simulation training lab opened this month at the site of the hospital’s three original emergency rooms. $1.5 million dollars in funding from the Gary M. Hock Family helped build the center and purchase equipment.

Each mannequin is controlled in the next room, through laptops.

“We can have the baby’s face and mouth turn blue indicating they don’t have enough oxygen,” said Granger.

A microphone gives the patients a voice.

“I don’t feel well,” uttered SimMan 3G.

Staff lessons are hands-on — videotaped — with the element of surprise, just like in the emergency room.

“They can make mistakes and they can look on the video afterwards and see their mistakes, talk about it, try it again and improve,” said Carol Nelson, Director of Education.

“In our last lab, we had one of the cameras hanging on a Ziplock bag, taped to the wall,” said Herb Geary, Vice President for Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer for the Health System. “This shows you what high tech has really become.”

With the touch of a screen in the control room, training groups in the adjoining area may find themselves calming a screaming child, going through code blue procedures or bringing a new life into the world.

A sensor in the simulated patients can even detect whether medication being administered through an iv is the correct medicine.

To give you an idea of the cost, Noelle and newborn Hal came as a package at roughly $80,000 dollars. The patient simulators are made in America by Gaumard, a manufacturer and supplier for health care educators.

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