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Bethany nurses use innovative Living Lab for training

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen pneumonia-flu season arrives, Bethany Village nurses will be ready. About 120 Bethany nurses are getting prepared for the upcoming pneumonia season by practicing with “Mrs. B.”

Mrs. B is an electronic human patient simulator in the Living Laboratory, a unique homelike environment for nursing education operated by the Nursing Institute of Wright State University on the campus of the Bethany Village retirement community in Centerville.

Through this innovative training, Bethany nurses can become acutely aware of early signs of pneumonia in elderly residents, who don’t always exhibit more identifiable pneumonia symptoms that are observable in younger persons.

“How are you feeling today?” the nurse asks Mrs. B, simulating an 85-year-old woman. “I’m tired,” a programmed response comes through Mrs. B. “Have you eaten recently?” the nurse asks. “Every time I eat, I choke,” Mrs. B responds, followed by a weak-sounding cough.

Mrs. B’s fatigue, inability to swallow and weak cough might be enough to seek a doctor’s attention to treat a life-threatening condition, said Harriet Knowles, Director of the Nursing Institute and instructor of the recent training with Bethany Village. Older persons are more at risk for pneumonia than younger adults and they have less ability to recover, she said, but yet their symptoms can be less obvious.

“Pneumonia among the elderly is very serious and early diagnosis is the most important factor for good outcomes,” said Knowles.

Nurses worked with trainers to hone their skills in assessing lung sounds, taking advantage of simulations that can reproduce variations in sounds that can indicate the seriousness of the situation.

Bethany Village is striving to make more use of education possibilities at the Living Laboratory, which has been used extensively to educate Wright State nursing students, using cutting-edge technology in a homelike environment.

“It provides convenient, effective instruction that is valuable to our staff,” said Chris Soergel, Director of Nursing, Bethany Village. “The technology in the Living Lab makes it possible for nurses to practice various clinical situations in a controlled environment. To have the interaction with Mrs. B and the Nursing Institute is very beneficial to our staff.

“Our nurses have been energized by this experience,” said Soergel. “It gives them confidence with their assessment skills and improves communication with the physician.”

More than 750 older adults live in the Bethany Village senior living community in residential living, assisted living and skilled nursing care, on a 100-acre campus in Centerville, Ohio. Bethany Village is owned and operated by Graceworks Lutheran Services, a nonprofit organization for residential and community care services. For information, email bethany@graceworks.org or call 937-436-6850.

The Nursing Institute brings the expertise and resources of the Wright State University College of Nursing and Health and its collaborators to create innovative nursing-driven solutions for community-identified needs of healthcare organizations and educational institutions.

Written by Bethany Lutheran Village

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