- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

MALTA, Ill. (AP) - Melissa Thompson lay in her hospital bed, eight months pregnant. Her blood pressure was skyrocketing, and she was complaining of headaches.

A group of nurses entered the room, circling Thompson’s bed, keeping her warm with blankets, taking her vitals, administering a catheter, reading her charts. Her mother stood by and asked the nurse many questions as Thompson constantly asked for updates on her unborn baby.

Then, Thompson had a seizure, and the nurses turned her on her side and treated her until she stopped shaking. By Adam Poulisse.

“We actually didn’t have a lot of time to react,” said Alexandra Clark, who was in the room with Thompson. “We got her oxygen, and we got her on her side. It was really scary.”

But Thompson was not real - she is one of five high-fidelity patient simulators at Kishwaukee College that can blink, have a pulse and heartbeat, and can react to the nursing students’ treatments, giving the nurses-in-training valuable experience. It mirrors the simulation lab at Kishwaukee Community Hospital.

The college has 18 simulators that range from ordinary mannequins to very realistic models such as Melissa Thompson.

The more advanced high-fidelity simulators cost about $60,000 to $90,000 each. Air pumps simulate breathing and a pulse. Their eyes blink, and they can even urinate as part of pre-programmed situations that mirror real-life situations nurses could experience.

“It’s a different style of learning,” said Bette Chilton, Kishwaukee College dean of health and education. “It’s an opportunity for students to experience high-risk situations and be the primary caregivers in those situations.”

On Thursday, a dedication was hosted in the Terry and Sherrie Martin Health Careers Wing that was formally unveiled last May, which is where the patient simulators are located between several different rooms.

During the presentation, upper-level nursing students from an obstetrics class performed a simulation on the simulator dubbed Melissa Thompson for donors to see where their money was going.

Students Clark, Diane George, Vanessa Pain, Sue Stillwell and Jessica Schlick all assumed different roles. George took on the role of the frantic mother.

Although Kish nursing students do get some hands-on experience through clinicals at Kishwaukee Hospital, Rockford Memorial Hospital and Swedish American Hospital, students at the demonstration praised the program’s effectiveness.

“Being thrown into real-life situations prepares us,” Clark said.

“Students always whisper how excited they are about it,” George said. “It’s great for learning.”

During the simulation, nursing lab coordinator Heather Heilman watched from a double-sided mirror. Through a speaker system, she was able to hear the nursing team and also communicate to them as Melissa, complaining of a headache or worrying about the effects her seizure or low blood pressure could have on her baby.

But the instructors are completely hands-off during a simulation.

“We don’t interfere with their reality,” Heilman said. “We don’t walk in in the middle of a simulation.”

It was a simulation the students had already performed, as to avoid springing a new simulation on students before public eyes.

“When students are performing their skills, the faculty protects (students’) confidentiality,” Heilman said.

Terry Martin, who the wing was named after, alongside his wife, was impressed with the student nurses’ performances.

“From where we were standing, there were so many things for them to do,” Martin said. “They’re able to train someone with situations they might not experience otherwise.”

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Source: The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle, https://bit.ly/1BCkt1t

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Information from: The Daily Chronicle, https://www.daily-chronicle.com

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