Yampa Valley Medical Center Staff Development Director Debra Harris demonstrates features of the new simulator lab Wednesday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Yampa Valley Medical Center Staff Development Director Debra Harris demonstrates features of the new simulator lab Wednesday.

Yampa Valley Medical Center debuts new training aids

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Simulator lab

Yampa Valley Medical Center Staff Development Director Debra Harris talks about the features of the hospital's new simulator lab.

— New education tools at Yampa Valley Medical Center will help train staff members with treating serious medical issues they see only sometimes.

“To have this level of equipment in a small rural hospital is not something you would normally see,” YVMC CEO Karl Gills said Wednesday.

Gills and other YVMC staff members were debuting the training equipment to members of the public.

Using a $500,000 grant from a former patient’s family foundation, the hospital purchased two dummies and related equipment to transform a room near the emergency department into a simulator lab.

YVMC Staff Development Director Debra Harris demonstrated how the dummies are not so dumb and effectively can simulate a medical emergency such as a heart attack or serious trauma like a stabbing.

To help create realistic scenarios, the dummies behave like real patients. They can cry, drool, sweat, blink, convulse, moan, urinate and bleed. A dummy’s lips can turn blue, and the pupils react to light from a flashlight. Treatments such as giving drugs or a shock from a defibrillator are measured and relayed to a computer that runs the simulations. The hospital plans to later add a dummy that can simulate childbirth.

Harris said the training would be valuable for the hospital’s more than 100 nurses.

She helped develop the simulator lab with emergency room physician Dr. Larry Bookman and Emergency Department Director Paula Golden.

Bookman, who has a background in aviation, said the airline industry is an example of how simulations and training improve safety and save lives. The same applies to hospitals, he said, especially rural ones like YVMC that deal with high-risk situations such as gunshot wounds, albeit not as often as large hospitals.

“We are a small hospital, and a lot of things that are serious don’t happen that frequently,” Gills said. “The sim lab allows us to recreate those circumstances.”

YVMC’s fundraising arm, the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley, applied for the HBB Foundation grant used to purchase the equipment.

“It certainly is one of those things that without the donor, we wouldn’t be able to do,” Gills said.

The simulator lab opens April 3, and the training will be offered by Harris and six nurses. They will train other nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, diagnostic imaging technologists, medical technologists, lab support technicians and case managers.

Once the simulator lab is established, Bookman said, training opportunities might become available for nearby colleges and emergency responders.

“It’s a perfect fit for a rural hospital,” Bookman said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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