Practice makes perfect at Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center


Training routinely held at Simulation Lab

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – It’s been said practice makes perfect. That phrase applies to more than just a sport, music lessons or a dance class. It’s also very relevant in the field of medicine.

Improving the quality of care which patients receive is of the utmost importance. It also explains why part of a local hospital that Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller visited is dedicated to practicing medical response and treatment to improve patient safety.

A staff member at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center could be heard saying, “He’s losing a lot of blood.” A nurse replied, “Okay, we need some help in here.” A Code Blue was about to be issued for a 58-year-old patient who suffered a traumatic puncture wound to his upper leg. While the patient and the injury were not real, the simulation was for the hospital staff at the VA.

“It’s very important that they are brought up to speed with this kind of scenarios,” said Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Chief of Critical Care & ER Vinay Desai, MD.

Under his watch during the drill, Dr. Desai said, “Everybody off. Shock at 200. Resume compressions immediately. Bag.” The medical professionals at the VA gather in the simulation lab once a month to participate in a Code Blue exercise. They work on advanced cardiovascular life support skills and just as important team dynamics. “They have to try to bring order to chaos,” said Dr. Desai.

Susan Lewis, RN is Chief of Staff Development at Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center. Describing what she calls ‘the beauty of simulation she said, “You are in a safe place here to learn. So when you make a mistake, when you struggle with equipment, you’re not going to harm a patient.”

The patient nicknamed ‘Bo’ is what’s called a high fidelity mannequin. It’s one of three along with several other mannequins that don’t have all of the computerized bells and whistles. Regardless, all of the equipment gives these team members a chance to become more adept.

“Practice makes perfect,” said Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Nurse Education Specialist Theresa Buckley, RN who oversees staff development.

Thanks to that practice, the simulation patient survived his life-threatening injury. Ms. Buckley reviewed the team members’ performance and said, “They knew professionally their process and the procedures what they needed to do and it went very well. It was like a beautiful dance.”

Simulation training at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center started in 2008 with a single mannequin and a bed. It’s now recognized by the Veterans Health Administration as an intermediate simulation lab.

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