$17 million renovation of 100-year-old building at Lovell Federal Health Care Center modernizes training, preserves history
A nearly century-old building at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago has been renovated with a high-tech simulation center and other features to serve as a training hub and resource for seven partner VA medical facilities in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.
A sense of history and purpose of the original building also is being preserved while training opportunities are modernized and expanded to improve patient care in regional VA medical centers, according to Jayna Legg, Lovell spokeswoman.
The $17 million renovation covers about 39,000 square feet, or just under half the space of what informally is known as Building 4 but officially called the Lovell FHCC Education Center of Excellence.
Officials this past week marked the opening of the new center, which has been 10 years in the making.
Building 4 was constructed in 1926 and hasn't been renovated since the 1960s. It originally housed a theater and a large chapel and historically had been a center for training and staff events, Legg said.
The tile flooring, plaster ceiling and lights in the chapel were replaced. New chaplain offices were built, pews refurbished and the space outfitted with modern technology for multimedia presentations.
The Education Center of Excellence will be used by civilian and military health care staff and residents and medical students from partner schools, including Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago.
Programs will ensure readiness and safe patient care in fixed and battlefield settings, according to Lovell Director Dr. Robert Buckley.
To the latter purpose, sights, sounds and smells of combat can be simulated in a military training room.
Besides the medical-oriented facilities, the renovation features a 213-seat interactive lecture hall and theater, computer labs and meeting rooms, library, and office space for several departments.
A key feature of the project is the 8,500-square-foot "Sim Center," which is set up to look like a hospital. It includes a separate emergency room entrance with sliding doors, a two-bed ER, a medical/surgical room, operating room, ICU beds and dental task room.
An apartment-style space includes a kitchen area, bathroom and bedroom so medical professionals can train in a home health care or nursing home care setting, Legg said.
Each of the simulation rooms has hospital beds and high-tech mannequins representing a range from geriatric to pediatric patients.
The mannequins, which have been used at Lovell for some time, breathe, bleed, move and have heartbeats so they can be hooked up to monitors, given CPR and can have simulated wounds, Legg added.
Buckley said the military training room will allow personnel to "train as they fight." The room provides a realistic battlefield experience, where smells can be piped in, temperature fluctuated and explosions simulated, for example.
It will be used for the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course, a requirement for active duty and Reserve Navy Medicine staff before they are deployed, according to Cmdr. Jeremy Pyles, acting Lovell FHCC executive officer.
The immersive three-day course, "culminates with the student, dressed in full battle gear, completing a rigorous final exam taking them through multiple trauma station points, flanked by explosions and gunshots, and using real-time situations to bring a sense of reality to the training," Pyles said.