In a private room at The Valley Hospital Center for Childbirth, Noelle is about to give birth to her first child. One minute everything seems fine; the next the labor and delivery team spring into emergency response mode as the obstetrician detects the signs of shoulder dystocia, an obstetrical emergency in which the head is delivered but one of the shoulders fails to pass through the pelvis and is "stuck."
As they have been well-trained to do, the team responds quickly and baby Hal is delivered safely. But Noelle is in no condition to appreciate their work. Noelle is essentially a robot — a full-sized, blond mannequin that can give birth and be used to simulate a wide range of obstetrical, medical and surgical emergencies.
Valley purchased the Noelle Maternal and Neonatal Birthing Simulator and Newborn Hal through grants from The Van Houten Foundation and The Valley Hospital Foundation. A five-year-old Hal mannequin has also been purchased. The high-tech mannequins are the cornerstone of Valley’s simulation training program, which has been underway for about a year. Future plans include the establishment of a Simulation Laboratory funded by a $2.5 million grant from the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
Simulated emergencies have been implemented in the OR and Center for Childbirth and are planned to expand into other areas of the hospital. The obvious benefit of simulation training is that it may be accomplished with absolutely no risk to the patient and allows nurses, physicians and other members of the healthcare team to practice and review their performance before being faced with a live patient. “This is particularly valuable in the case of high-risk, low-frequency occurrences, which staff may not see often in their careers,” said Beth McGovern, clinical practice specialist at Valley and one of the simulation educators.
“It also fosters teamwork between different disciplines as all members of the team work together on the simulation exercises, which can improve processes and patient safety,” McGovern said. The Institute of Medicine has recommended interdisciplinary team training programs as one way to encourage a “culture of safety” that makes patient safety a top priority. “In a simulation exercise, we have physicians, nurses, techs, and other members of the healthcare team working training side-by-side, which mimics what happens in a real medical emergency,” McGovern said.
Caption: Medical simulator “Noelle” gives birth to a healthy baby boy as part of a simulation training drill in The Valley Hospital’s Center for Childbirth. Baby “Hal” was delivered by OB/GYN Roger Coven, M.D., with the assistance of Beth McGovern (left) clinical practice specialist, and labor & delivery nurse Jamie DeVisser. During the drill the team ran through the steps required to respond to shoulder dystocia, an obstetrical emergency in which the head is delivered but one of the shoulders fails to pass through the pelvis and is "stuck."