Brand-new simulator centre expected to save lives

By Vanessa Ybarra
December 12, 2016 - 5:57pm Updated: December 12, 2016 - 6:48pm

KAMLOOPS — It's an opportunity of a lifetime for medical students at Royal Inland Hospital.

Through a very generous donation, two patient simulators have been given to the hospital, allowing both student nurses and doctors to practice routine and emergency exams.

"We have two simulators," said Tracy Canuel, Regional Knowledge Coordinator for Simulation. "We have one adult male and we have one pediatric simulator. They're high-fidelity which means they're controlled by a computer and they have heart sounds, breath sounds, they blink, can feel pulses."

"We take this very seriously," said Dr. Steve Reid, a Family Practice Resident at Royal Inland Hospital. "We enter the room wearing hospital scrubs so we're already mentally prepared for it being a very real situation. The room itself looks like a very authentic, typical patient room. It really feels like the real thing."

Simulators have become commonplace in many B.C.  hospitals including Vancouver General Hospital and Kelowna General Hospital. 

At RIH their computer-programmed patient costs $90,000 and can simulate almost any medical situation. 

"We're running intubation practices, chest-tube insertion, point-of-care ultrasound," said Dr.Reid.

Every chest compression and insertion is instantly recorded into a database where it's later analyzed by instructors. 

While stressful, students say simulators are the only way to keep skills sharp. 

"Being able to practice and being able to talk it out and practice that steadily over time gives you that type of tactical stimulation," said Karan D'Souza, a third-year medical student at UBC. "It also teaches you to speak out loud and just do it."

The SIM center  is a joint partnership between Interior Health and Rae Fawcett. 

The Kamloops resident donated one million dollars toward the center as well the RIH breast care unit after seeing first-hand the benefits of experiential learning.

"My youngest son was born with a hole in the upper-tube chambers of his heart," said Fawcett. "So many doctors and nurses  would come in, they would check his pulse, listen to his lungs. I know that his problems when he was younger did help other doctors so I'm hoping this will do the same."

RIH staff say they plan to add a pregnancy simulator to the center in the next few years, the center's so-called 'fake patients' changing the real world of medicine. 

"It's going to result in better patient outcomes down the road which is what we all in health care strive to achieve," said Canuel.

Heaps of generosity at RCMP's 'Stuff the Cruiser'