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Lab spaces dominate CSU's new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices

Cleveland State University's new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices

Cleveland State University's new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices

Vida Lock, CSU’s Dean of the School of Nursing

Mannequins used at Cleveland State University's new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices

Mannequin parts storage at the center

Cleveland State University's new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices

Cleveland State University's new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices

Cleveland State University's (CSU) new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices (CIMP) building opened to students last August. Pelli Clarke Pelli designed the 100,000-square-foot structure, which features three floors and cost nearly $47 million to build. Donley's was the contractor.
 
The airy and modern interior includes spacious common areas, the walls of which are accented with graphics that evoke electrical pulses traveling between a great unseen brain to any number of imaginary limbs. And while CIMP has its share of classrooms, collaborative study spaces and offices, the labs are what set the building apart.
 
In the labs, hands-on practice involves dozens of patients with an array of health needs, from standard blood pressure monitoring to the treatment of acute conditions. These patients, however, won't suffer if a student errs.
 
"They're mannequins," says Dr. Vida Lock, CSU's dean of the school of nursing. "This is simulation. The students have actually practiced and done the psychomotor skills on plastic mannequins before they go into a hospital with a real patient."
 
To be sure, the labs look just like a real medical ward. Monitors beep. Oxygen ports hiss. Gurneys line the walls, each one occupied by a mannequin/patient. The effect is a bit eerie at first, until a visitor notices the names listed above the beds. Try: Ron Stillblowin, Angie Tube, Christopher Crash, Jason Hipster, Tree Shaker or Virginia Hamm. A bit of comic relief per se, but every one of them has a complete electronic health record that includes allergies, medications and the patient's health history.
 
"It's very realistic," says Lock. Students are even required to don a lab coat before they enter the room. "We want students to walk into the lab in role. They have to walk in pretending that they really are the nurse or physician."
 
The mannequins are no cast-offs from Macy's or JCPenney; these are highly technical teaching tools graded as low, medium or high fidelity. Lock describes the least sophisticated models as, "big Barbies with extras," while the high fidelity units cost upwards of $80,000 and simulate heart and lung noises, have blinking eyes and can be intubated or defibrillated among other features.
 
"We can turn these patients from male to female," says Lock. "We can put different body parts, organs, incisions, ostomies … " Versatility notwithstanding, the storage space for those parts is a bit unnerving for the layman.
 
"We actually have a mannequin that gives birth," says Lock. There's also a pediatric ward that features an array of child and infant mannequins.
 
The end result is an all-encompassing educational experience. Students dispense faux pharmaceuticals, confer with one another on patients and review their work courtesy of a digital recording system that captures it all.
 
"We worked with all the different health disciplines to find out what people needed and how various professions could collaborate for education," says Lock. "Health care is really changing and with this new approach, there's not one person in charge. It's very collaborative. Teaching students in silos and then expecting them to graduate and go out and work as a team really is not effective."
 
The center houses 400 students. Approximately 170 are admitted each year. Lock notes that the school receives two and a half times the number of applications that can be accepted.
 
"It's very competitive," she notes of the coveted placements.
 
Other features in CIMP include a speech and hearing clinic, occupational and physical therapy classrooms, a physical assessment lab wherein students practice procedures such as taking a pulse and monitoring heart sounds on each other, a café and CSU's health and wellness services. Community outreach programs include flu shots, a monthly stroke clinic and the Go Baby Go program, wherein children ages six months to two years with Down syndrome and their families work on cognitive development.
 
"The building was really designed to be more than state of the art," says Lock. "It's designed to bring the future of health care to our students and our community. It's designed to be an inter-professional education building. The learning environment that exists here for our students does not exist anywhere else in this region.
 
"We really are cutting edge."

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit erinobrien.us for complete profile information.
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