It's not just another baby doll. It's a high-tech medical marvel that helps the Upper River Valley Hospital delivery room staff learn real-life reactions to save struggling newborns' lives.
The SimNewB simulation mannequin, Upper River Valley Hospital Foundation's latest equipment purchase for the Waterville hospital, will help its delivery-room staff better understand and prepare for real-life emergencies.
Obstetrics nurse manager Andrea Kilfoil expressed her appreciation for the foundation's ongoing support and explained the real-life benefits of the new training equipment.
"A huge thank you to the generous donors to the Upper River Valley Hospital Foundation that enabled us to purchase a state-of-the-art SIM-Newborn simulator mannequin," Kilfoil said. "This is a life-size infant with very realistic characteristics that imitate a real newborn and will improve education for staff in the entire hospital,"
Kilfoil said the "completely computerized" mannequin allows the instructor to change vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, sounds of crying or difficulty breathing, skin colour and heart sounds.
She explained the instructor operates the doll through a hand-held leap pad that wirelessly transmits to the baby and the monitor at the bedside.
"This allows scenarios to evolve constantly, therefore challenging the staff to diagnose and treat different situations," Kilfoil said.
She said these features enable physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists to learn new skills and update and practice current skills such as intubation, IV insertion through the umbilical vein or interosseous, and mixing and infusing IV medications and fluids.
"Each time, they increase their knowledge and comfort levels for when these situations occur in real life," Kilfoil said.
She explained the SimNewB allows Labour and Birth staff, who must recertify in neonatal resuscitation every two years, to practise many more scenarios and procedures ahead of time.
"We have held four neonatal resuscitation classes this month with SimNewB, and staff felt that this simulation doll really improved their learning experience," said Kilfoil.
NRP instructor Cody MacQueen welcomed the benefits the new training doll offers.
"The use of the SimNewB leads to a more life-like simulation and a better learning environment," she said.
MacQueen said old mannequins required participants to "pretend and use imagination" for practice scenarios. In contrast, the SimNewB baby gives real-time feedback, such as the actual ability to feel for a pulse, auscultate for breath sounds, cry, chest and arm movement, and allows the learner to practise their assessment skills in real-time.
"Sim baby also allows for learners to practice actual advanced life-saving skills with feedback, prior to ever having to use these interventions on a real patient. As seen with adult resuscitation simulations, SimNewB is one additional asset to improved care and outcome for our smallest patients," she said.
Kilfoil said a simulation team from the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital (DECRH) came to the URVH emergency room in June for a full day of education and simulation training using the SimNewB on emergency care for sick babies that could present to the ER.
She said the staff expressed gratitude for the training and the opportunity to ask questions of the experts.
"Caring for/resuscitating a neonate (baby) is especially stressful for ER staff as it is not a skill that we perform regularly, said Joe Carr RN. "The SimNewB allows us to provide high-fidelity simulation to the ER team."
Carr said the training helps medical staff become more familiar with the skills, equipment and common problems involved in neonatal resuscitation.
Kilfoil said the SimNewB allowed training staff to perform intubation, deliver ventilations, assess lung sounds, assess the level of consciousness, practice IO line insertion, see changing vital signs and cardiac rhythm and rate throughout their training scenarios.
Kilfoil said several staff members described it as some of the most interesting and useful training they had undertaken in years. She added that one staff member said, "in a few words to describe the experience, I would say it was interactive, true to life and hands-on learning."
The SimNewB mannequin marks just one of many URVH Foundation's purchases to enhance care at the Waterville hospital, including several state-of-the-art devices for the hospital's obstetrics and Labour and Birth department.
Recent foundation-led additions to improve mother and child care include a fetal heart-rate monitor and Panda infant warmer. The wireless monitor enhances mobility for a mother in labour, and a modern infant warmer not only provides essential warmth to a struggling newborn but puts the baby's vital statistics at the Resuscitation Team's fingertips.
Kilfoil said URVH staff appreciate the foundation's support made possible by the generous donations from the Upper River Valley community, including the purchase of this most recent valuable tool for realistic teaching of these life-saving skills so vital in the first critical few minutes of life.
"It will continue to benefit our hospital and community for many years to come," she said.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun