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New medical training center to benefit Elmhurst Hospital

Elmhurst Hospital Center is one of the city’s public hospitals that will benefit from a brand new medical simulation training facility now under construction in the Bronx, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday at the Queens hospital.

The $10 million center, slated to open in 2010, will boast a number of training rooms and 11 high-tech medical dummies that can sweat, blink and suffer simulated medical conditions from seizures to heart attacks. The city Health and Hospitals Corp. expects it to train 14,000 doctors and nurses in the first three years of operation.

It will be located at Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, a location selected by the city due to a large conference area the HHC has previously used for training sessions.

“Today we’re taking a major step toward making patient care and safety even better,” Bloomberg said, noting the center will be the first of its kind serving public hospitals in the country and the largest serving the metropolitan area.

Elmhurst Hospital Administrator Chris Constantino said the hospital has been training staff members for about a decade with a single medical dummy. The visiting program had trained about 60 staff members at Elmhurst by Monday.

“This will be far more effective than our single dummy,” he said.

The purpose behind the new center and the mobile training sessions is to improve the communication between teams of doctors and nurses working together in various departments. Doctors and nurses undergo their medical training separately before working with one another in an actual hospital environment, said the center’s director, Dr. Haru Okuda.

“It’s like having individual members of a football team practice on their own and then come together for the first time at the Super Bowl and expecting them to win,” he said, noting studies have shown 70 percent of medical errors come from the failure of medical staff to coordinate and communicate while caring for a patient.

Bloomberg took part in a simulated emergency scenario enacted for the press Monday. As nurses and doctors communicated with the “patient,” Bloomberg jumped in to relieve a fatigued nurse who was pumping the dummy’s chest while others charged a defibrillator.

The medical team’s performance was filmed from three angles, and each doctor and nurse would be debriefed later using the footage, Akuda said.

“I had great confidence that I could save this patient’s life,” the mayor joked afterward. “It’s part of being a full-service mayor for a dollar a year.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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