New technology helps health care staff sharpen skills

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The more you practice something, the better you get at doing it. But in health care, the challenge is sharpening skills for those situations that don't come up very often.

New technology filling the gap in the form of high-tech simulators. Stormont Vail's Birthplace staff is among those who regularly train for scenarios.

"We use it often to simulate situations that are clinical that would be probably considered more high-risk emergent kind of situations that don't happen a lot," explained Christy Crawford, director of Stormont's Birthplace. "It's a great tool because it just really helps the staff feel better prepared and better able to handle those situations when they do arise."

While they've had simulators before, their newest mode, dubbed "Tori," has updates that make exercises more realistic. Through a computer link, her skin can turn from healthy red to troublesome blue or a yellowed jaundiced; movements can change to see if staff spot signs of a seizure, or is it a withdrawal; even her crying can change from normal to a rasp that may signal respiratory distress.

"They're becoming more and more human-like," Crawford said.

The simulations include anyone who'd be involved in an actual response, from Birthplace nurses and NICU staff, to doctors, midwives and more. The scene is recorded, and they review afterward what they did right and where they could improve.

"That is our end goal - is to have the very best outcomes for our moms and babies," Crawford said.

The Birthplace started using the updated simulator a few months ago. It was purchased from money raised by the Stormont Vail Foundation.