May 13, 2020By Lance Baily

Florida Simulation Centers USF Health’s CAMLS & FIU’s STAR Center Train Regional Healthcare Providers

USF Health’s CAMLS and FIU’s STAR Center have been supporting regional healthcare providers with specialized healthcare simulation training to support the fight against COVID-19. Rapidly evolving their programs to support these external learners was no easy task, and learning how these medical simulation programs were able to pivot their simulated training so quickly and with such powerful results is inspirational! Has your program quickly transitioned to support frontline workers in Coronavirus Simulation? Email us and share your story! As well, those looking for COVID-19 resources should check out our Dedicated Coronavirus Healthcare Simulation Resources Page.

FIU’s STAR Center Trains Florida National Guard for COVID-19

The FIU’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences and STAR Center can now add COVID-19 field training to its repertoire of emergency and disaster management support. Earlier this month, the Florida National Guard tapped educators from the College and Center to prepare medical personnel to man the 450-bed alternate care facility at the Miami Beach Convention Center.


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The “just in time” refresher training was provided for up to 70 physicians, nurses, combat medics and other health care personnel from the Florida National Guard. Twenty faculty members and staff from the College’s Nursing Practitioner and Nurse Anesthesia programs, the Simulation Teaching and Research Center – aka STAR Center – and graduate nursing and doctor of physical therapy students were onsite providing demonstrations and hands-on training to set up patients on ventilators, respond to respiratory and cardiac distress, proper donning/removal of PPE (personal protective equipment) and more.

“The Florida Guard and Joint Task Force Aide are grateful for the partnership with FIU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the STAR Center,” said Air Force Col. Patrick Lanaghan, Joint Task Force Aide Hospital Commander. “Their ability to mobilize quickly with the equipment, curriculum and educators to get our teams ready to support the state’s COVID-19 response is a credit to the University’s mission and College’s dedication to public health.”

The College and STAR Center have a long history of providing emergency health care services and support to the community. Currently, FIU nursing faculty and students are joining forces with counterparts at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work to provide COVID-19 testing at Tamiami Park.

Since 2000, FIU Nursing has partnered with Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida Health Department to train and prepare staff nurses for hurricane season. In 2017, FIU Nursing faculty and alumni collaborated with the FIU Florida Advanced Surgical Transport Team (FIU-FAST) to assist with the large influx of patients in critical need of care at the on-campus hurricane shelter in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The STAR Center, which recreates fully operational clinic and hospital settings and 50,000 hours of simulated education scenarios with high fidelity patient simulators, or manikins, to provide nursing simulation students with immersive, real-world learning experiences is also a resource for disaster response training.


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For the next five years, the FIU STAR Center facility and staff will assist training disaster response medical professionals on proper aeromedical evacuation and specialized medical care to critically ill patients in-flight and during facility transfers. This is part of a $4.8 million grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services National Disaster Medical System that was awarded to FIU’s Academy for International Disaster Preparedness at the College of Public Health & Social Work.

“FIU’s fundamental vision since it opened its doors has been to offer solutions that meet the needs of the community it serves,” said Helen Cornely, Associate Dean of the Administration for the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “It was an honor to collaborate with The Florida National Guard and to provide the expertise, resources, and skills to help practitioners provide quality care to our community during this difficult time.” Read the full FIU News story here!

USF Health’s CAMLS Bring COVID-19 Training to Florida Hospitals

Sarah Blazonis from BayNew9.com recently reported how the University of South Florida’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) continues to provide training to medical professionals amidst COVID-19. Dr. Haru Okuda, CAMLS’ executive director shared with Sarah that steps put into place before the virus hit have helped them adapt, sharing how simulation centers “have to be very nimble and able to adjust based on changing requirements”.

Normally, training is held at CAMLS’ 90,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility, one of the largest in the nation. Medical students, Tampa General Hospital and VA hospital residents, as well as thousands of professionals from across the medical industry, receive training there. Okuda said before the virus was a concern, a new program was launched called “CAMLS Without Walls.”

“We’re bringing our team, our equipment, our simulators, and doing training what we call ‘in situ’, which is within the clinical environment,” said Okuda.

Beginning three weeks ago, CAMLS began holding simulations at TGH. “We’ve been doing some really innovative things by using certain walkie talkie-type devices to speak to teams that are in two different locations, because before you’d have the whole team come into the room. Now, we want to focus on just the core members of the team and other folks could stay outside the room,” Okuda said.

Also ahead of concern about COVID-19, Okuda said CAMLS completed a research agreement with Immertec, a company that specializes in virtual reality medical training technology. We’ve been working to figure out how to incorporate that into the future of training,” Okuda said. “So, whereas before, you’d have a group of doctors come in to learn a surgical procedure on a new surgical simulator device at CAMLS, now the idea is to use this VR technology, which is at CAMLS now.

Other steps CAMLS has taken include building sophisticated clinical simulation experiences specific to COVID-19 and creating training videos — something the center has never done before. Okuda expects some of these new offerings will last beyond the pandemic.

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