June 23, 2018
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Kennebec Valley Community College unveils health care simulation lab

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

FAIRFIELD, Maine — The effect of a gift by TD Bank to Kennebec Valley Community College could potentially be felt by thousands.

Larry Wold, TD Bank’s state president, cut the ribbon on a state-of-the-art health care simulation laboratory in Bernard A. King Hall at the college on Tuesday afternoon. TD Bank donated $100,000 for the project, which includes adult and pediatric units in a simulated hospital setting.

“First of all, it just feels somehow right to be giving a gift to the community on Valentine’s Day,” said Wold.

The lab features four beds and interactive mannequins. The lab was made to look as close to an actual hospital room as possible. It even had balloons that read “Get Well Soon.”

Students are “going to do amazing things with patients because of this lab,” KVCC Director of Nursing Marcia Parker said during a demonstration. “They’re going to develop the confidence that comes with the job.”

Students performed a demonstration on a wireless-controlled mannequin that could cough and blink its eyes. Instructors in another room were able to give responses to students’ questions through the mannequin.

“It was pretty cool. It gives us a chance to work in scenarios we normally wouldn’t be able to,” said Rick Lewis, a senior respiratory therapy student. “It’s weird. I’m not going to lie to you. It blinks and talks to you.”

“This went very smoothly,” said Ally Moore, a senior nursing student. “They put some surprises in there to keep us on our toes.”

Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons was on hand to see the demonstration.

“I couldn’t be more excited. It’s a chance to put our students with the latest equipment, a wonderful gift by TD Bank,” said Fitzsimmons. “As you saw from the students, there’s real excitement because they have a chance to learn and make mistakes without it being real. It’s really fun to watch.”

Working on a mannequin that could talk, breathe and give vital signs wasn’t the only real-life scenario Fitzsimmons noticed.

“What’s important, I thought, is connecting the EMTs, the nurses and respiratory [students together instead of them working in separate groups],” he said. “It’s exactly what happens in the hospital.”

KVCC President Barbara Woodlee said because the college has 13 health care programs, the lab will be put to good use.

“This is a tremendous tool for us. This came at just the right time,” said Woodlee, adding that the room used to be a biology lab.

Wold said the donation made sense for TD Bank.

“It’s worth it to us,” he said. “We do business with all the big hospitals and they’re looking for nurses. If you can help everybody develop a great work force, everybody benefits.”

Barbara Larsson, director of respiratory therapy, was excited to see the lab in use.

“Thank you very much, TD Bank,” she said. “We’re looking at this as a wonderful learning opportunity for our students to have real world experience. We haven’t even realized the potential of this lab. It is wonderful.”

Fitzsimmons said Central Maine and Southern Maine Community Colleges also have simulation labs.

“Eventually we’ll have more. It’s a more efficient way of teaching,” Fitzsimmons said.

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