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Funds will go toward purchase of high-tech medical mannequins

March 24, 2009 (El Cajon) – Included in the federal appropriations bill signed  by President Barack Obama is a slice totaling $190,000 for Grossmont College’s nursing program to help equip the high-tech simulation labs central to the new health/physical sciences complex currently under construction.

Grossmont’s share of the much-anticipated spending bill will go toward purchasing an upgraded model of the computerized mannequins that have proven to be such invaluable teaching tools since first introduced to the college about eight years ago. The medical mannequins, like the SimMan models currently used at Grossmont, have been refined over the past decade, thanks to computer software advances, and can simulate a wide range of bodily functions and reactions to the poking and prodding by students. Integrated speakers allow the mannequins to speak and to emit realistic heart, lung and bowel sounds.

Chancellor Cindy L. Miles said the funding from the omnibus bill is particularly important because of the region’s growing healthcare demands and the critical need for more nurses and allied health professionals.

“As the population of the country as a whole ages and as life expectancy grows longer, the need for more nurses becomes that much more pronounced,” she said. “These funds are essential for the equipment to train these professionals and get them into the field as quickly as possible.”

Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board President Bill Garrett said the ability to provide hands-on, high-level training in a controlled environment is a primary reason the simulation labs figure so prominently in the new health and physical sciences complex opening next year.

“This funding, requested in 2008 by former Congressman Duncan Hunter is greatly appreciated,” he said.

At a groundbreaking ceremony in September, Garrett described to the audience a conversation he had had with a healthcare professional about how essential the mannequins – described at times as “simulated patients” – have become as training tools.

“It’s not only because they react so realistically, but they give students the opportunity to try things they might not do if it were a real person on a gurney,” he said.

Instructors are able to observe the simulations and remotely control the mannequins from a control room. In addition to the lifelike devices, the college will be able to purchase the ancillary camera and recording equipment which enable instructors to monitor and record students for training and debriefings.

Debbie Yaddow, associate dean of nursing, said she was “absolutely thrilled” by news of the funding.

“Our students will benefit so much from training with state-of-the-art, high-fidelity simulation equipment,” she said. “They will be better prepared for emergency patient situations through practice in simulated clinical situations.”

Dr. Sunita Cooke, college president, said Grossmont has been fortunate in attracting widespread support from industry and business in acquiring costly medical equipment used in hospitals and clinics, but obtaining the latest training tools poses a significant financial challenge. Cooke said the demand for more nurses and the level of training needed to work in today’s field continues to expand.

“This federal funding enabling training on patient simulators will go a long ways toward ensuring that our students continue to receive the superb preparation for health careers that Grossmont College is known for,” she said.

Grossmont College, with its four nursing programs – Evening/Weekend, Welcome Back (a retraining program for international healthcare workers seeking credentials to return to the field in the United States), LVN-to-RN (licensed vocational nurse to registered nurse), and its regular, semester-length program – each year trains almost 300 students. More than 40 percent of the total nursing students graduating annually at community colleges in San Diego and Imperial counties come from Grossmont.

Grossmont College, with a student enrollment exceeding 19,000, is located at 8800 Grossmont College Drive in El Cajon. More information about the campus is available at www.grossmont.edu

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