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St. Michael’s Hospital opens state-of-the-art simulation centre

Toronto, October 28, 2011

By Leslie Shepherd

Inside the Allan Waters Family Simulation Centre.
Inside the Allan Waters Family Simulation Centre.

St. Michael’s Hospital today (October 28th) opened the most advanced simulation centre in Canada.

The Allan Waters Family Simulation Centre will allow students and health-care workers from a wide range of disciplines to learn and practise new procedures and conduct research using computers and mannequins.

“The use of a simulation facility allows us to practise skills and learn new ones in a safe environment so that we can deliver better quality and safer patient care,” said Dr. Patricia Houston, the hospital’s vice-president for education.

The 5,800-square-foot simulation centre includes a full-size, state-of-the-art operating room -- where trainees are put through real-life medical scenarios or crises to learn how to respond quickly and as a team – and a skills lab where they learn and practice the newest surgical and diagnostic procedures.

The OR can be transformed into an emergency trauma suite, intensive care unit, patient ward—or even a mock rave party for training EMS workers. Every effort is made to ensure training participants feel the same sense of stress and urgency as they would during a real-life experience.

For added effect, scenarios may include role players such as a surgeon, circulating nurse or respiratory therapist. Instructors can also throw in artificial vomit and spray the scent of stool in the room.

By the end of the simulation session, participants will have gained hands-on training with no risk to patients.

The star player in these scenarios is a life-size, anatomically correct mannequin that has a pulse, heart beat and breath sounds and responds to interventions such as the administration of oxygen, fluids and chest compressions. Its pupils dilate in response to the injection of certain drugs; it can turn cyanotic; and instructors operating a computer on the other side of a one-way mirror can make fluid ooze from its ears, nose and mouth. St. Michael’s has the most advanced mannequin available, which can also cry and sweat through pores in its forehead.

St. Michael’s was a pioneer in simulation, opening only Canada’s second simulation centre in 1996. The centre has focused on training healthcare workers how to respond to crises and on training interdisciplinary teams. This new centre brings all the hospital’s simulation activates into one centre on the bottom floor of the hospital’s new Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre and greatly expands into surgical simulation.

“I see this as a turning point in the history of simulation at St. Michael’s,” said Dr. Houston. “Today, with the opening of this beautiful new simulation centre, we are moving forward to becoming a world-class centre for surgical simulation.”

The skills lab focuses on minimally invasive procedures, for which St. Michael’s is a leader. It has equipment to practice virtual laparoscopies and has the most up-to-date endoscopy equipment, with miniature microscopes that may reduce the need for more invasive biopsies.

“Surgeons who have simulation training perform faster, are more accurate and make fewer errors,” said Dr. Teodor Grantcharov, medical director of the simulation centre. “For patients, this means fewer complications and less time on anesthesia.”

The simulation centre is also set up for tele-simulation, where trainees practice treating patients at a distance over a secure network. The latest in audiovisual equipment will allow procedures, real or simulated, to be broadcast to anywhere in the world.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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