COEUR d’ALENE — Kootenai Health recruiter Kelly Wolfinger was both surprised and impressed as North Idaho College’s mannequin “Lucina” simulated the miracle of childbirth.
“The baby’s coming! That’s amazing!” Wolfinger cried as she peeked under a sheet draped over the lower half of the obstetrical model. "It’s so realistic."
The "baby" connects to "Lucina" through Bluetooth and has pressure sensors in its head and neck that tell health profession students if they need to be more gentle during an exercise in labor and delivery. Once it's completely out of the mannequin, the software cues the joyful sound of a newborn's cry.
"It’s fantastic that NIC has provided their students with the opportunity to be able to learn on such realistic mannequins," Wolfinger said, adding it gives potential staff members much-needed practical experience.
"Things aren’t such a surprise," she said. "We’re really able to integrate them much quicker when they have that experience."
"Lucina" and its male counterpart, "Apollo," were on display Thursday afternoon during an open house in NIC's Health Sciences Simulation Center on the NIC campus. Health professionals, students and curious citizens toured the facility to see how this simulation technology is giving students hands-on education without having to step foot into a hospital.
“We get a lot of really positive feedback from the students,” said Myles Larson, simulation operations specialist. "It’s realistic enough that they are stressed out about it and they’re treating it as a real patient. It’s a safe learning environment for them to make super critical mistakes without hurting anybody."
Funding for "Lucina" and "Apollo," which cost about $80,000 each, was provided by grants from the U.S. Department of Labor and the NIC Foundation. "Apollo" is similar to "Lucina;" both use air pressure to move internal parts and have functions that allow students to check vitals and record any problems they observe. "Lucina," however, has three interchangeable abdomens to provide different scenarios when working with an adult woman, whether she is pregnant, going into labor or neither.
The Simulation Center includes debriefing rooms for students to view other students working on the mannequins, a nurse's station and a sterile atmosphere that closely mimics that of a hospital or healthcare unit.
"When we did our simulation this fall, we did a simulation of a heart attack," said Christine Roberts, who is in her fourth semester of NIC's nursing program. "I had a code response my second semester. It was a heart attack response and I had no idea what to do. I felt like a fly on the wall. But after running through this simulation, it got me familiar with the treatment plans of actually going through what needs to be done. It made it a lot easier and a lot more practical."