Simulation lab provides lifelike practice to nurses at YVMC

Teresa Ristow
Nurse Mandy LaChance, middle, works with Julie McFadden, left, and fellow nurse Sarah Shine during a training simulation at the Yampa Valley Medical Center last week. The nurses and staff at the hospital use a robotic mannequin to work through emergency situations that might occur during or after the birth of a baby.
John F. Russell

— Four Yampa Valley Medical Center nurses last Tuesday huddled around the hospital bed of Vickie, a woman who had just given birth to her fifth child, and who was quickly beginning to post-partum hemorrhage.

“What happened?” asks Vickie, who is bleeding and seems disoriented.

The nurses explain to Vickie the situation, continuing to monitor her vitals on a wall screen while one nurse gives a fundal massage and another calls a doctor elsewhere in the hospital to ask for advice.

Within minutes, Vickie’s nurses have sopped up more than 900 milliliters of blood, but their quick work has saved her life and stabilized her.

“You guys were quick,” said Registered Nurse Kristin Kotkas, who helped run the exercise with “Victoria,” a Gaumard Scientific Birthing Simulator, or patient simulation mannequin, used as a teaching tool for nurses and other medical professionals.

Victoria is the newest addition to the four-room simulation lab at Yampa Valley Medical Center, and the mannequin is capable of delivering one of two baby mannequins, either vaginally or through a C-section. She also comes with a baby capable of being intubated and resuscitated for drills where mother and baby both need immediate medical attention.

She joins two other mannequins, an adult and child, who also are part of the HBB Simulation Lab, which opened in 2011 at YVMC.

“She can say things, and her vitals, it really makes it more realistic,” said Registered Nurse Susan Engle, who helped run the exercise for four YVMC nurses that signed up for the lab as part of their continuing education at the hospital.

Victoria can simulate multiple birthing scenarios, and she can contract, bleed, sweat and respond to a variety of medical treatments just as an actual person would.

The training tool was purchased through patient gifts to Yampa Valley Medical Center’s Healthcare Foundation.

“To be able to try out these scenarios versus just talking about them is huge,” said Michelle Burns, a registered nurse who signed up for the simulation activity, which was only the second simulation of its kind performed since the hospital received the mannequin earlier this month.

After the simulation was finished, the four nurses who participated sat down to debrief with three other nurses who ran the simulation, controlling the blood output and vitals of Vickie and selecting phrases the female mannequin would say to the nurses.

The nurses reviewed YVMC’s post-partum hemorrhage policy and discussed whether they followed the appropriate steps to take care of the patient.

“It helps us pick out where we can improve,” said Sarah Shine, a patient care unit nurse who participated.

While post-partum hemorrhages don’t happen frequently at YVMC, the excessive blood loss can happen immediately or days after a woman gives birth, and it is the leading cause of pregnancy related death worldwide.

Each of the nurses who participated in the exercise said they had assisted during at least one post-partum hemorrhage since becoming a nurse.

“We want to be very well prepared when it does happen,” Kotkas said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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