With the swing of sledgehammers, Elmhurst College and Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare this week celebrated the start of construction on a state-of-the-art simulation learning facility at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.
The Elmhurst College Simulation Center at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital will be a 4,600-square-foot laboratory and classroom space to serve nursing students, hospital staff and, potentially, first responders and other health care providers from across the Chicago area.
In their version of a ground-breaking ceremony, attended by more than 100 guests, Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare President and CEO Mary Lou Mastro and Elmhurst College President and CEO S. Alan Ray wielded sledgehammers Wednesday, Feb. 26, to break through the wall that will become the main entrance to the simulation center.
The simulation center is the result of an innovative collaboration between Elmhurst College and Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare. When completed this summer, the facility will be the only large simulation center in the region to have been established through this kind of health care/higher education collaboration.
"For many years it has been our dream to partner with Elmhurst Memorial on significant, long-term projects beneficial to our students, and now, with the start of the simulation center, we can look forward to just that," Ray said.
"We believe health care education will increasingly be taught in combinations of locations -- on campus, online and on-site -- using both real and simulated patient environments. By joining with Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, our simulation center will offer our students on-site education of the highest caliber."
Construction on the $1.4 million project has just begun and the simulation center is scheduled to open in July, in time to welcome new classes of undergraduate and graduate nursing students.
"We are honored to be working with Elmhurst College to provide a state-of-the-art learning facility at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital," Mastro said.
"This simulation center will give students an opportunity to gain a solid medical knowledge base in an environment where they can safely learn how to provide comprehensive, patient-focused care."
The Elmhurst College Simulation Center at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital will create health care environments that represent inpatient, outpatient and community settings. It will include:
• Simulation labs: In these examination and treatment areas, students can practice health-care scenarios and work on "low-fidelity" skills such as wound care and giving injections. Elmhurst College's life-size, robotic simulated patients will be housed here.
• Home-care lab/control room: Half of all nurses in practice today work outside of hospitals. In the home-care lab, students can practice conducting a well-baby visit or adapting a home for someone learning to live with a disability. In the control room, simulation directors can reprogram a simulated patient's condition without the students' knowledge, creating realistic exercises.
• Observation room: Because cameras will be installed in each of the learning spaces, students not participating in an exercise still will be able to observe it, not only from screens in the observation room but also on their cellphones and laptops, as well as in classrooms on the Elmhurst College campus.
• Conference room/classroom: After a simulation exercise, students can debrief here.
"The fast-paced, high-stakes, high-stress health care delivery environment requires nurses to be educated in the natural sciences, social sciences, technology and humanities in addition to nursing science," said Julie Hoff, director of Elmhurst College's Deicke Center for Nursing.
"This state-of-the-art simulation center at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital has the potential to enhance Elmhurst College nursing students' knowledge acquisition, critical thinking, clinical reasoning and learning satisfaction, as well as increase their exposure to other health-care professionals."
The center's location inside a hospital will give nursing students not only more opportunities to meet professionals in their field, but also a real-time understanding of health care trends and changing technologies. In the end, the experience will contribute to better patient care.
"Health care is always evolving, and the students of today will be the leaders of health care tomorrow," said Pamela Dunley, vice president and COO/CNO at Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare.
"Our goal is to help train these future medical professionals to provide quality and patient-centered care using best practices and advanced technology to best meet the needs of all patients."