DANVILLE — Health-care staff at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System have a new type of patient on their hands — one with a heartbeat and blood pressure, but who doesn’t mind being poked and prodded.
These life-like mannequins are part of the new Simulation Education Center, which opened in April. Employees practice on the high-fidelity mannequins, which are capable of portraying patients who are healthy, acutely ill, or chronically ill.
“They’ve come a long way since I was a nurse,” Director Emma Metcalf said on a recent visit to the lab.
The education center is just one of the many improvements at the VA. Illiana also received permission to build two more homes for senior veterans, continued to reach out to recent veterans, redesigned its logo, completed or started building projects and renovations, and won national awards, among other achievements in the past year.
“It’s been a very, very good year,” Metcalf said.
Metcalf, who joined Illiana in March 2012, will start a new job this month with the VA in Lexington, Ky. A search is under way for her replacement.
Training on dummies
The new Simulation Education Center (SEC) provides a learning environment for diagnostic and clinical procedures and is a safe setting to practice critical thinking and communication skills.
There are multiple levels of mannequins or Human Patient Simulators. The local VA has five or six mannequins, with one of those being a SimMan3G, a high-fidelity mannequin that provides the opportunity to practice multiple airway skills, breathing complications, cardiac issues, circulation problems and vascular access, to name a few.
The center also has “Out of OR Airway Management” task trainers to provide practice opportunities for difficult airway management, as well as medium-fidelity mannequins for simpler skills and tasks.
A person sitting at a computer simulates various conditions, which the staff must respond to. Some mannequins are able to breathe, speak, sweat, blink, bleed, convulse, go into cardiac arrest and respond to stimuli. They also produce heartbeats, bowel sounds and blood pressure readings.