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Simulation Training Fosters Safe & High-Quality Care for Heart Center Patients

May 12, 2021

Life-threatening heart conditions in babies make it imperative for all members of our Heart Center team to master procedures on their small, delicate physiologies before actual emergencies occur.

In many areas of medicine, providers practice on simulated human bodies before they are involved in real-life care and to maintain skills throughout their careers. The Heart Center conducts ongoing training for all team members – ranging from students and residents to veteran nurses and physicians – to hone key clinical expertise, identify barriers and promote teamwork and communication. The Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) is even equipped with a dedicated space for education.

Meet Alex

The recent addition of Alex, the Heart Center’s new SimBaby™, allows team members to practice procedures and prepare for treating patients with varying needs. Alex is a life-like, computer-based mannequin of an 18 to 24-month child and serves a crucial role in simulation training for the medical team. Thanks to the latest technological advances, Alex is programmed to produce heart and lung sounds, pulses, arrhythmias, and has the ability to have a tracheostomy, all of which help the team replicate a variety of scenarios they are often met with in the CCU during real-life patient care.

Alex provides the opportunity for the team to practice technical and communication skills required for procedures like resuscitation or intubation. They are also routinely used in simulations for ventricular assist devices (VADs) and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). These trainings help the team focus on eliminating errors and reducing inefficiencies in their process before they enter into an actual high-pressure situation. Alex is also used as an educational resource for patient families as the care team helps to prepare parents for the transition from the CCU to home.

“We are fortunate to have Alex and all the bells and whistles they have to offer to help us be better as individuals and healthcare teams for our patients,” says Mary McBride, MD, FAAP, MEd, Attending Physician, Cardiac Care Unit. 

With Alex’s help, the Heart Center is able to continually provide the highest-quality care to CCU patients. They may be a tiny member of the team, but Alex plays an incredibly significant part. Learn More About Lurie Children's Heart Center.