By HEIDI PRESCOTT
South Bend Tribune Staff Writer
7:42 PM EST, February 6, 2012
ELKHART -- In about 90 percent of all births, the baby smoothly
transitions from the womb to the world. About 10 percent of the time,
an infant requires special assistance after delivery.
Some babies need stimulation or a little bit of oxygen when they are
born. And every now and then a baby requires intubation, medication,
or other extensive resuscitation measures.
Area hospitals such as Elkhart General Hospital are constantly working
to provide their medical personnel with the best training possible for
situations like this. And now, a new tool will assist them in
accomplishing that task.
The Elkhart General Hospital Foundation recently donated a
computerized infant simulator, or high-tech sim baby, to the
hospital's neonatal unit to provide greater life-like training for
nursing staff who may need to resuscitate a newborn.
The training tool cost about $25,000.
"When things go wrong, it can happen in an instant," said Michaela
Nufer, an Elkhart General neonatal nurse practitioner. "That's why
it's so important we make training scenarios as realistic as
Elkhart General has long required every nurse on the delivery team be
able to accurately assess the baby's condition and perform the needed
resuscitation measures that may include intubation, intravenous line
placement, and medication delivery.
But the hospital recently made changes to the way medical personnel
are tested on performing these life-saving procedures on babies.
Instead of testing an individual alone on his or her resuscitation
knowledge and hands-on skills, the unit has gone to a team approach,
Nufer said. Now, the individual is tested when working with a team of
doctors and nurses in a real-life situation.
The realistic sim baby takes training to a new level.
"The team works together to know what each person's role is. By
seeing, hearing and feeling in a simulated environment, each person
will know instinctively what to do," Nufer said, and the sessions are
taped for discussion of improved teamwork.
The condition of the computer-controlled sim baby can quickly change,
very similar to real life.
The baby can cry or not make a sound. It can have seizures. Its heart,
oxygen and respiratory rates can change. Its blood pressure can rise
or suddenly fall.
Nufer said a medical staff member can program the sim baby to react
based on the scenario and how the nurse and team are performing
individually or together.
She anticipates the sim baby will be used in both the neonatal unit
and emergency room at Elkhart General.
Memorial Hospital of South Bend, which is owned by the same health
care system as Elkhart General, is also in the process of acquiring a
sim baby, a spokeswoman said, to enhance the care Memorial provides to
children and area families.
"The best way to practice is to learn in a simulated environment,"
Nufer said, "because there can be high anxiety in a code situation and
the individual wants to perform appropriately. There are lifelong
consequences if you don't do the appropriate things at the appropriate
Staff writer Heidi Prescott:
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