The Northside Hospital Simulation Center for Clinical Excellence: Saving Lives and Equipping our Staff

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A few years ago, Northside Hospital’s leadership started to think about opening a Simulation Center to provide more hands-on training for our direct patient care staff. Simulation is becoming the norm in the healthcare industry, as there are specific codes and circumstances that are difficult to practice unless one is in real time. Because of this, simulation is becoming a popular and effective way to provide staff with specific training and improve patient outcomes.

In September 2018, the Northside Simulation Center for Clinical Excellence opened in partnership with the Respiratory Therapy and Patient Care Clinical Education departments in order to provide a safe learning environment for all of the specialty areas of Northside. This includes physicians, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, IV therapists, patient care technicians and registered nurses. The Simulation Center serves all patient care staff.

Donna Dye, one of the RNs on staff who has her Master of Science in Nursing degree states, “Having a safe learning environment allows staff to practice skills that they might not get to do very frequently, but requires high accuracy. Getting that hands-on time provides those learning opportunities.”

The Simulation Center consists of several lifelike mannequins- each with unique capabilities to play out certain scenarios. Since 2018, The Northside Hospital Foundation has donated $62,000 to the Simulation Center to provide the participants with up-to-date equipment and experiences. Also, in past years, the Northside Foundation has provided almost $180,000 for advanced neonatal simulators at Northside Atlanta, Northside Forsyth and Northside Cherokee.

“The Simulation Center initially started small with four high-fidelity mannequins and has expanded through a generous donation from the Northside Foundation to include 13 mannequins in our family-everything from a premature baby, to a 5-7 year-old boy, to an elderly gentleman, to a woman who can deliver a baby by breach or normally. We can simulate the whole life continuum with these mannequins here in the Simulation Center,” stated Donna.

Sandra Grady, Manager of the Women’s Center at Northside Forsyth says, “Our infant simulator, Super Tory, has the capabilities to simulate scenarios that involve a hands on approach similar to the patient care world. Simulation kindles confidence in the staff and provides opportunities to ask questions and improve on techniques. One very beneficial feature is the capability to have a nurse ventilate Super Tory with bag and mask and the effectiveness of each breath given. Simultaneously, each breath is evaluated by charts on the monitor the clinician is operating. Effective ventilation is the major component in saving lives and this training will solidify the seamless care we are giving to all of our patients. Equipping our staff with hands on knowledge and skills for our delicate patient population will enrich our patient care outcomes.”

Additionally, an infant simulator is on its way to Northside Cherokee, and the staff is expectant for the impact it will have on their training. Christina Roberts, Womens Center Manager at Northside Cherokee states, “Simulation training has become the gold standard in newborn resuscitation and stabilization. It is approximated that 1 in 10 newborns will require basic resuscitation measures. This newborn simulator will be used to replicate real life resuscitation scenarios that require quick thinking and specialized skills for the staff. This type of instruction and training directly impacts better patient care and better outcomes. Thank you so much to the Foundation for all they do to help ensure a safe and positive experience for our families here at Northside.”

The Simulation Center staff has had extensive training on how to use the software associated with these mannequins in order to program a specific scenario for those participating in the simulation. The staff also gets very creative- from creating their own realistic blood clots at home to figuring out how to simulate a maternal hemorrhage for our labor and delivery unit. Additionally, they have created simulations of a baby being in a car in the parking lot for the emergency department staff.

“We have been dedicated and determined to use current equipment that is used on the nursing units so that we’re not using outdated equipment from the simulation manufacturer,” Donna said, “we are actually using the IV pumps that the nurses use on the floor and the ventilators that are used in ICU. We want to use equipment that people will see in their day-to-day practice.”

One of these items is the defibrillator which was purchased with some of the funding from the Northside Foundation. Each participant who comes to the Simulation Center has the opportunity to use the defibrillator to practice codes in order to refine their skills.

“I’ve had participants say, ‘I came to the Simulation Center and practiced a mock code, and a few days later I was in a code situation, and I felt much more prepared,’” Donna recalled.

When Covid-19 first came to Northside, the Simulation Center became absolutely vital. While dealing with unforeseen circumstances, being able to practice situations in the Simulation Center was incredibly useful. Physicians, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, and nurses alike flocked to the Simulation Center for experience on how to handle new situations and hospital protocols. New nursing staff and respiratory therapists had their last semester of clinical rotations in school online, which left them without of a portion of hands-on experience. Thankfully, the Simulation Center was prepared to fill the gap and provide the needed experiences for these new graduates.

Since its opening in September of 2018, the Simulation Center has seen over 4,000 Northside employees for simulation training, and it’s increasing each year. In addition to Northside Atlanta, the Simulation staff presently works with Northside Forsyth and Northside Cherokee with hopes to expand services soon. The Simulation Center has been achieving its goal of improved patient outcomes and as it expands, will continue to be an excellent resource for staff for years to come.

For more information about the Northside Hospital Simulation Center for Clinical Excellence, contact the Simulation staff at 404-257-4018 or simulation.center@northside.com.

For more information about supporting the Northside Simulation Center, continuing training/education for patient care staff or nurse navigators at Northside, contact the Northside Hospital Foundation at 770.667.4483 or foundation@northside.com.