A new era in nursing: Renovations unveiled at Bay College

ESCANABA – The public was invited to an open house Wednesday at Bay College to celebrate the completion of the college’s newly renovated and expanded Allied Health and Nursing area.

Half of the $1.5 million project was funded by the state of Michigan, with the other half the result of funding from the late John and Melissa Besse and the Bay College Board of Trustees.

The expanded nursing area includes new faculty and staff offices, two fundamental nursing lecture labs used to teach beginning students basic patient care, and a four-room human simulation center.

The sim center includes human simulation mannequins of a man, birthing mother, child, and baby, known as SimMan, SimMom, SimJr, and SimNewB.

The mannequins are computer controlled and can simulate an array of symptoms or medical conditions, according to Bay College Vice President of Institutional Advancement Kim Carne.

“If you give him CPR, he’ll tell you if you’re pushing too hard or you’re not pushing hard enough,” she said of the SimMan during a tour of the facility. “If you are going to give him medicine, he’ll tell you if you’re putting it in too fast or too slow. He even knows, as you approach him, if you’ve got the right medicine in the needle you use.”

A sim technician or faculty member controls the mannequin through a control room and can even talk to the nursing student working on the patient through the mannequin itself.

The sim labs are designed to introduce students to encounters they may not have experience with during their clinicals at local hospitals and medical care facilities. The sim lab rooms are also designed to resemble a hospital environment to get students as close as possible to a true hospital experience.

According to Bay College Dean of Allied Health Patti Henning, this also means students must protect their sim patient’s confidentiality and gain experience with electronic medical records for their sim patients, known as sim charting.

Another new portion of the nursing area is a debriefing room where students can watch a video replay after working with a mannequin to assess the care they provided them.

The debriefing room also enables them to watch a live feed of their fellow nursing students providing care to the mannequins in the sim lab and critique them.

“Really part of the nursing education is learning how to stand up for patients and sometimes you have to critique and call out your work partner,” said Henning. “This helps them get ready for that.”

In addition to the Escanaba campus, Bay College West in Iron Mountain also has a new sim lab consisting of two rooms that hold three sim mannequins (SimMan, SimJr, and SimNewB), made possible by the estate of Charles and Patricia Nelson in Iron Mountain.

Henning noted there is a huge benefit of having such a state-of-the-art sim lab facility at Bay College.

“When we’re fully up and running, we will be able to expose students to all sorts of scenarios and situations that they will have to manage,” she said. “We can simulate them in leadership positions. We can have one directing the others. There’s a lot of options but it will take the randomness out of nursing.”

The project also included a renovation of the largest lecture hall on campus, which seats 72 students and is used mostly for nursing and science class lectures. Two classrooms also saw improvements and a new study space was added in the hallway area.

“Our new space is so exciting,” said Bay College President Dr. Laura Coleman. “The new nursing labs and human simulation has modernized allied health and nursing education. It’s amazing and gives our students the opportunity for better and more effective health care training.”

In addition to the major project funders, Carne credits all others who played a role in the Escanaba campus project from the project’s general contractor Roy Ness Contracting, to the firm that designed it, IDI of Marquette, to a team from the State of Michigan who managed the overall project. She highlighted the college’s close partnership with OSF St. Francis Hospital, which donated many of the medical instruments the college uses in their nursing labs.

Many departments from the college also stepped up to help, while

Henning noted Lansing Community College, which has a long-running sim lab there, helped in the lab’s implementation at Bay College.

“This project took a year pretty much,” said Henning. “We moved our whole department down to a very big room and we did fine, but the whole project was the efforts of a lot of different people at the college…and working together, training together, it’s been a good, good experience.”