Practice On $250,000 Mannequins Makes Perfect

Jan 2, 2017

A roomful of patients have blank stares as they eye medical students and professionals inside a $3.3 million simulation laboratory at the Dayton VA Medical Center.

Not unlike any other hospital patient, they have name bands, hospital gowns and IV drips. They have a heartbeat, a pulse and some receive oxygen. But these aren't real people, just advanced mannequins, some costing as much as $250,000.

Just a few feet away in a control room, instructors program challenging scenarios, and according to Simulation Coordinator Jeff Adams, "If he dies, we just reset the computer."

At $80,000, Rufus is one of the cheapest mannequins at the 1700 sq ft facility. He lies on a bed in a hospital gown and utters a list of canned phrases, based on what people like Operations Manager Kateri Gabriele ask him. She says, "Are you dizzy?" "No, I don't feel dizzy,"

The Sims Center is training thousands of VA health workers in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Dayton VA Administrator Robert Sellers says there’s also a 45 foot trailer that takes learning on the road.

What’s next in medical mannequins? Gabriele says ones developed in Japan can sit up and move around and decide what phrase to speak based on what the hospital workers say.

The Dayton VA simulation center is open to other hospitals. Sellers says people from Kettering, Miami Valley, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Wright State University and others are welcome to train.