Simulation Technologies and Training (STAT) Center Opens at Greenville Tech

November 5, 2009

GREENVILLE, SC – A $1.5 million Simulation Technologies and Training (STAT) Center opened today at Greenville Technical College, making the college one of very few in the country to use simulation technology to improve education for students in all 20 of the college’s health and nursing programs.

The center, on Greenville Tech’s Barton Campus, houses eight simulators in seven environments including a city street where a car accident has occurred, a scene inside a home, an emergency room, a standard hospital operating room, and a specialty room such as intensive care or pediatric intensive care.

The goal of human patient simulation is to reduce medical errors, which according to some estimates kill 44,000 people in this country each year. With simulation, students can make the most common and preventable medical mistakes without risk. For example, an instructor can program a simulator to have the symptoms of a heart attack including chest pain, difficulty breathing, increased respiration, and a decreased heart rate. As the symptoms progress, the student responds with treatment. When the scenario is over, an audio-visual system that has recorded what was done and how the patient responded can deliver immediate feedback on the student’s actions.

Simulators, especially the advanced models that bleed, cough, breathe, and even tell you how they’re feeling —  can cost as much as $250,000. At the STAT Center, iStan, a model produced by METI, was modeled after a real human, and comes complete with pores, hair follicles, and fingernails that need a trim. The center also houses a Gaumard Scientific model named Noelle, a simulator that gives birth. Since students in clinical settings don’t always have shifts that coincide with actual births, the simulator provides lifelike experience in labor and delivery including unexpected situations such as hemorrhaging and breach births.

The STAT Center is overseen by Mike Fisher, whose use of simulators started when he was the college’s department head for EMT, expanded as he helped other instructors find uses for the teaching tool, and grew even more as other colleges began seeking his advice and expertise. Today, Fisher is often called upon to speak to groups about simulation and the possibilities it creates in education. In August, he served as keynote speaker for the Southeast/Gulf Coast Regional HPSN at the WellStar Advanced Patient Simulation Center in Atlanta, GA. This conference, hosted by METI, joins nurses, doctors, paramedics, military personnel, and others, providing an opportunity to boost simulation skills and deepen knowledge of how to integrate simulation into the curriculum.

A far-reaching effort that brings healthcare and education together has allowed Greenville Tech to provide this advanced technology in a 3,800 square foot center. In 2004, the Medical University of South Carolina, Greenville Hospital System (GHS), Palmetto Health, and the University of South Carolina created a partnership to increase health sciences research, drive economic development, and improve health care in the state. Out of that initiative, funded by the partners and by matching funds from the state aimed at recruiting top scientists and engineers to lead research programs, Dr. John Schaefer, an internationally recognized simulator expert, was hired to establish a statewide network of seven simulation centers.

In Greenville, the network includes a center at GHS and a smaller center at Greenville Tech. Collaboration between the hospital system and the college ensures that optimum use is made of each. At GHS, the primary focus is continuing education for healthcare professionals. At Greenville Tech, the mission is hands-on training for allied health and nursing students.

Equipment money for Greenville Tech’s center has come from a variety of sources. The hospital system used Duke Endowment funds to help the college secure the audio/video servers used for debriefing. The state’s Allied Health Initiative helped with funding of the simulators themselves along with camcorders, Smartboards, and other tools for teaching. Additional money from the Hollingsworth Funds supplied beds and other equipment for the center.