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Hospital, college to build nursing simulation center together

Published: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 10:54 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 10:57 a.m. CDT
Joe Perez for Shaw Media - Officials from Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare and Elmhurst College on Wednesday celebrate the start of construction for the hospital's nursing simulation center.
(Joe Perez for Shaw Media -
S. Alan Ray, president and CEO of Elmhurst College (left) lifts his sledgehammer while Mary Lou Mastro, president and CEO of Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, pushes open the wall during a reception Wednesday to celebrate the start of construction on the hospital's nursing simulation center.

ELMHURST – In just a few months, a $1.4 million nursing simulation center will open for Elmhurst College students and hospital staff at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.

“We’re modeling the future health care by creating this partnership,” said Julie Hoff, director of the Deicke Center for Nursing Education.

Hoff explained that as modern health care demands more collaboration among doctors and nurses, working with the hospital exemplifies that cooperation.

“I think that’s actually the most exciting part of all of this,” said Deborah Steberg, director of professional practice and education at Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare.

Elmhurst Memorial hosted a reception Wednesday celebrating the start of construction. The 4,600-square-foot Elmhurst College Simulation Center at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital will feature simulation labs where nursing students can practice low-fidelity skills like wound care and giving injections. In addition, life-size, robotic-simulated patients will reside in the labs. The simulated patients can be programmed to display symptoms and conditions ranging from a fever to giving birth with complications.

Steberg also mentioned how, more and more, nurses are working outside of the hospital setting. A home care lab will include a living room and residential bathroom where students can practice conducting a well-baby visit or adapting a home for someone with a disability.

A control room hidden behind one-way mirrors will allow directors to reprogram and change a simulated patient’s condition without students knowing and create near-to-life situations.

An observation room will allow students not participating in simulations to observe from screens in the room as well as their cell phones and laptops. Equipment will also be installed in Elmhurst College classrooms to broadcast simulations to students on campus.

Students and instructors can use the conference room as a classroom for debriefing following exercises.

“That’s the beauty of it.” Hoff said. “It’s just a lot more space that is more usable [and] flexible.”

Elmhurst College nursing students use simulators now, but they are limited by space, Hoff said. Students won’t have those same limitations at the center.

“To be able to have new nurses working in a simulation lab is very beneficial,” Steberg said of recent nursing graduates working at the hospital.

She also noted the night shift, which often has limited resources, will benefit from the simulation lab.

“I’m most excited about our ability to work with the low-volume, high-paced [emergency situations],” Steberg said.

She explained that simulation allows staff to practice as a group for emergency situations in a near-to-life environment. While the hospital experiences emergencies, Steberg said not every nurse or physician run into them every day. Simulations also provide the chance to observe a group dynamic in a high-stress situation.

Both students and staff will begin using the simulation center in the fall, but both Hoff and Steberg are excited about the two institutions working together. Steberg said the hospital can benefit from Elmhurst College research, and students can benefit from the hospital’s help when finding students placements in the area.

“As leaders we’re leveraging each other’s resources,” Hoff said.

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