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KidSIM Saving Lives with Simulation

Like flight simulation for pilots, high-tech human patient simulation is an increasingly vital part of training medical professionals for potentially lethal emergencies. Thanks to community support, the Alberta Children’s Hospital has become a world leader in the field. Within Canada’s first and largest hospital-based pediatric simulation lab, our experts have helped thousands of doctors, nurses, surgeons and residents sharpen their skills in treating children who require resuscitation, heart-lung bypass, critical care while in transport, surgical intervention and much more.

Today, our KidSIM team has been called to action
to help take the team into uncharted territory.

Never in modern times has the world been tasked with fighting a virus so devastatingly aggressive. Social distancing, self-isolation and lockdown measures have been put in place across the country in attempt to slow the spread. All of us are doing everything we can to avoid coming into contact with COVID-19. At the same time, our courageous health care providers are prepared to face it directly.

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Personal protective equipment is the shield that protects health care workers so they can provide much needed care to those who fall ill. It’s essential. And out of necessity – disposable. Our specialists have learned from their colleagues in other parts of the world that how they put on and take off their PPE can contribute to the spread of the coronavirus. Improper removal, particularly when staff are exhausted from long and stressful shifts, has increased the risk of infection. For this reason, standardized step-by-step “donning and doffing” simulation training is a new requirement for Alberta Children’s Hospital front line staff.

Code Blue
During life-threatening emergencies when a child’s heart or breathing suddenly stops, a Code Blue is called, triggering an immediate rush of nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists from all areas of the hospital. Typically, the scene is crowded, with lots of movement in and out of the area as the team works to revive the child. Simulation is playing a key role in designing and practicing new protocols in order to adapt to new safety measures and minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

Transferring patients 
Within the hospital, patients are often transported to and from different areas, such as when they require a diagnostic scan or get moved in to or out of the intensive care unit. KidSIM specialists are currently identifying and testing optimal processes to transfer a COVID-19 patient to reduce the possible contamination of the environment, staff, equipment, patients and other departments.

Isolation scenarios 
Once staff are properly outfitted with their PPE, they must also exercise heightened vigilance while entering, moving within and exiting patient rooms. Every surface, every door handle, every crucial piece of equipment must be viewed in an entirely different manner. While specialists have experience in working with highly contagious viruses, COVID-19 is new and carries with it enough lethal unknowns that extra training will increase both staff and patient safety.

Caring for Adult Patients

As part of system-wide coordination within Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Children’s Hospital is prepared for the possibility of accepting adult patients should that be necessary. Highly-trained to care for critically ill young people up to the age of 18, the team is now performing simulations extending to an older population. Using computerized mannequins that can replicate a patient’s response to illness, injury and treatment, trainees experience the pressure and stressors of critical situations and learn how to better assess, manage and treat COVID-19 symptoms and complications.

Similar to their work in pediatrics, our specialists understand that being prepared to intervene appropriately during medical crises with adults can mean the difference between a complete recovery and significant long-term impairment. It can also mean the difference between life and death.

Simulation is benefitting areas across the entire hospital in the COVID-19 response:

email_form_heart.png Emergency Department
email_form_heart.png Diagnostic Imaging
email_form_heart.png Pediatric and Neonatal Inensive Care Units
email_form_heart.png Surgery
email_form_heart.png Outpatient Clinics
email_form_heart.png Inpatient Units
email_form_heart.png Allied Health (Speech, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Social Work)
email_form_heart.png CCAN (Complex Airway Needs)

Community funding for the KidSIM program has ensured our skilled and courageous professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis will be able to provide the best, safest care for all who set foot in the Alberta Children's Hosptial.




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