An elated crowd of several hundred people celebrated the grand opening of French Hospital Medical Center’s new educational and research center on Tuesday with speeches and tours of the three-story, 18,000-square-foot building.
The Copeland Health Education Pavilion provides space for medical training, community education and research activities at the hospital’s Johnson Avenue campus in San Luis Obispo.
“The pavilion is yet another important step in expanding our role in improving our community’s health and well-being,” hospital President and CEO Alan Iftiniuk told the gathering as he thanked donors, staff members and the city for their support.
He declined to disclose the exact cost of the project, saying only that it exceeded $10 million. Jim and Sandra Copeland and Tom and Pamela Copeland said a year ago that they had given $1 million.
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Designed by Brian Starr of Studio Design Group Architects in San Luis Obispo, the building includes two large classrooms for staff and student training, offices, and a boardroom all wired with smart video conferencing capabilities; an auditorium with a 214-person capacity, and two mock hospital rooms — called simulation labs — equipped with four computerized patient mannequins that medical staff and students can use to practice patient care. The classrooms and auditorium will be available for the public and nonprofit community groups to use at no charge.
This is not something you see in a community hospital. You would see this in a university teaching hospital. We’re very fortunate to have this here.
Jill Urmy, MSN, clinical educator for the French Hospital simulation lab
Iftiniuk said the pavilion will allow French Hospital to expand its partnership with Cuesta College, providing more training opportunities for the school’s students in nursing and other skilled medical fields, as well as developing a strong health research program with Cal Poly. That collaboration began recently with a first study analyzing how couples can work together to avoid maternal obesity during pregnancy.
“The hospital has the patient data, and Cal Poly has the researchers,” hospital spokeswoman Megan Maloney said. “This (collaboration) would use the real data that we could dig into and hopefully make a difference” in improving health care.
On Tuesday, the crowds roamed from room to room as nurses explained and demonstrated the sophisticated equipment.
In a room devoted to CPR training for both staff and community members, computers gave verbal feedback as people tried resuscitating infant and adult mannequins by pushing on their chests.
“These are a big improvement over the old mannequins,” said clinical training nurse Joyce Azevedo, as she demonstrated the correct technique. “We’re hoping to get better outcomes because people will know these skills better.”
In the classrooms, which are wired for video conferencing, viewing into the sim lab, or for students to attend remotely, clinical training nurse Tanya Moreland said the facilities are a dramatic improvement over the one cramped training room previously available at the hospital.
“This has opened up a whole new world here at French,” she said.
Much of the buzz among the visitors came with the tour of the simulation labs, where four eerily lifelike mannequins — an adult male, a newborn, a young boy and a female in labor — reclined in hospital beds, realistically breathing, groaning, vomiting or having seizures with the touch of a button.
“The sim lab provides realistic training in a true hospital environment,” said Jill Urmy, a nurse and clinical educator in charge of the lab. “It allows the staff to make mistakes in a safe environment and then repeat it until they get it right.”
Hospital staff members may use the sim lab both to practice medical procedures and to rehearse efficient teamwork during emergency situations, she said. The ER staff was particularly excited about the boy mannequin, she said, because children are a low-volume, high-risk group of patients. “To be able to practice their skills on a pediatric ‘patient’ is a real plus,” Urmy said.
The sophisticated sim lab “is not something you see in a community hospital,” Urmy added. “You would see this in a university teaching hospital. We’re very fortunate to have this here.”