First, Malcolm Baldridge was sweating, beads of perspiration on his forehead. His oxygen levels plummeted and his mouth turned blue. Then he went into cardiac arrest -- twice.
But after CPR restored his heartbeat, Malcolm was his chipper old self. "I am alive!" he announced so cheerfully that people couldn't help but laugh.
Malcolm Baldridge was the center of attention Tuesday at an open house for nurses and other caregivers at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove. This remarkable "patient" is actually a state-of-the-art, high-fidelity simulator designed to help nurses and others practice critical thinking skills in real time.
He breathes, he blinks, he bleeds. He can even die.
"We can create any scenario and program him," said Jenni Anderson, education consultant at the hospital's Lipinksi Center for Learning and Innovation.
Malcolm's real name is SimMan 3G. Unlike other simulators that are tethered to a computer, Malcolm is controlled wirelessly by a laptop. The education consultant doing the programming doesn't have to be at the bedside, but can watch everything from behind a one-way mirror in a control booth inside Malcolm's custom-designed hospital room.
The price of a SimMan 3G is $100,000, including mandatory insurance. The sophisticated simulator won't be used for routine skills training, but to train caregivers in responding to complex situations.
Choosing the name was easy. The simulator is named for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, a presidential honor awarded to organizations that are considered role models for excellence.
Good Samaritan was the only health care organization to receive the prestigious award in 2010. Nationally, only 13 health care institutions have been honored since the Baldrige award program started in the late 1980s.
Good Samaritan officials are still waiting to hear from the White House if President Obama will present the award.
Malcolm also will be used to help nurses and other caregivers practice how to respond to high-risk situations that don't occur very often. Like a real patient, Malcolm responds to treatment, getting better -- or, if the wrong intervention is tried, worse. He can be intubated or given medication. It's only distilled water that goes in his "veins," but ID tags on the syringe identify the drug and dosage and Malcolm responds accordingly.
Malcolm's roommate in the other bed is an older, more basic simulator. Eventually, the hospital plans to move in a second SimMan 3G.
The older simulator's eyes don't even open and close, while Malcolm's pupils dilate when a penlight is shined in them.
Caregivers listened as Malcolm demonstrated an array of normal and abnormal heart, breath and bowel sounds.
"This," said respiratory therapist Nikki Sustek, "is too cool."