Sim kind of wonderful

January 15, 2014

New pediatric simulation lab the largest in Canada

Story by Janet Mezzarobba; Photo by Paul Rotzinger

As a trauma nurse, Sherry MacGillivray knows the stress of treating a critically ill patient in the emergency department.

She has seen everything type of injury, from simple fractures to full body burns, in her 23 years of working with patients with traumatic injuries.

And she knows experience and practise are what makes her and her colleagues most effective at managing and treating these critically ill patients.

She’s helping others do just that as one of the educators in Canada’s largest pediatric patient simulation lab at the Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Calgary.

The $2.3-million KidSIM Centre, located on the hospital’s fourth floor, provides a simulated clinical experience where health providers can hone their skills on lifelike, computerized pediatric mannequins.

The mannequins breathe, speak and have a pulse and blood pressure.

The 375-square-metre centre is about 10 times larger than the hospital’s previous simulation space.

“The KidSIM Centre is truly leading the nation,” says Dr. Vincent Grant, Medical Director of the KidSim Pediatric Simulation Program.

“We have one of the broadest and busiest pediatric simulation programs in the world with more than 70 specially trained simulation facilitators, 10 computer-generated mannequins of varying ages and sizes, and five simulation labs all located in the new centre.”

KidSIM is able to mimic situations within various areas of the hospital, such as the emergency department and intensive care units, operating rooms and a variety of outpatient clinics.

“By making the situation as lifelike as possible, it is hoped that staff and students experience the pressure and stressors of the real situation, enabling them to better experience what it is like to manage these life-threatening emergencies as part of an interprofessional team,” says Dr. Grant.

This translates into better patient care, says KidSIM program co-ordinator Traci Robinson.

“KidSIM provides real-life experience in many of the scenarios a health care provider would face without actually working on live patients,” she says. “There are very few areas of the Alberta Children’s Hospital where simulation training is not used to enhance, supplement or, in some cases, replace traditional learning.”

Earlier this year, a team from the emergency department at ACH went through simulation training where they managed 14 scenarios involving a school bus crash. Many of the staff who attended these sessions were involved in helping patients from an actual bus crash a few months later.

Staff indicated they felt the simulation training added to their confidence and efficiency in managing multiple patient casualties and their families.

“By building confidence and expertise through deliberate practise, we can better prepare health care providers for real-life situations, enabling our staff and physicians to be as prepared as possible when dealing with our most critically ill children,” Robinson says.

The new KidSIM Centre is outfitted with the latest innovations in audiovisual playback and recording equipment, which will not only enhance the learning, but will continue to allow for the KidSIM research program to evaluate best teaching methods and the impact of simulation on performance, teamwork, quality and safety, and patient outcome.

The new KidSIM Centre was funded through donations to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.