New York Simulation Center for Health Sciences opens its doors

By Molly Merrill
11:13 AM

The largest urban health simulation and training facility of its kind opened Tuesday at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital Center.

The New York Simulation Center for Health Sciences was created by The City University of New York  (CUNY) and NYU Langone Medical Center. The facility represents one of the more concrete steps public and private institutions have taken to improve the city’s response to medical emergencies following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks or in the event of a natural disaster.

The 25,000-square-foot facility is designed to give doctors, nurses, EMTs and other healthcare personnel the opportunity to confront challenging, real-world scenarios, from multiple-patient triage and incident command to surgical and clinical emergencies, using state-of-the-art mannequins and plastic body parts that can seize, bleed, be sedated or even give birth.

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Professionally trained actors will serve as patients a variety of “ailments," helping trainees learn patient management and treatment techniques.

“This center will ensure that members of my lower Manhattan community, as well as NYU Langone, CUNY healthcare professionals and volunteer organizations – many of which were on the front lines following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks – will have the ability to prepare and train, should another disaster strike," said New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at the opening of the simulation center.

“The unusual experience of weathering two natural disasters in the same week – an earthquake and a hurricane – has served as a reminder to all New Yorkers of just how much we rely on trained personnel who can respond to emergencies in an instant,” added CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, CUNY received funds through Borough of Manhattan Community College to create an emergency preparedness training center. Under Silver’s leadership, the project came to fruition, found a home at Bellevue Hospital and was allocated nearly $20.8 million, split evenly by the city and state.

Thomas Riles, the Frank C. Spencer Professor of Surgery and associate dean for Medical Education and Technology at NYU Langone Medical Center, has been appointed the center’s director.

“Training healthcare workers and, more importantly, teams of healthcare workers to respond appropriately in situations is at the heart of simulation education," he said. "Just as we expect our pilots to have had hours of training in a flight simulator before attempting to land in a storm, we should expect that our emergency medical technicians, nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers be fully trained in a simulated environment before being called to care for casualties from a disaster. The New York Simulation Center for the Health Sciences is designed to provide this type of training – not only for victims of disasters but also for medical emergencies of all kinds."

The center features multiple simulation rooms, including a disaster training room, a five-bed ICU, two operating rooms, trauma rooms, a labor and delivery room and 14 patient examination rooms, and is equipped with more than 100 cameras to record training sessions that can be played back for students in debriefing sessions.

The center will be available for training emergency management workers from a variety of city agencies, lower Manhattan community groups and businesses and volunteer ambulance services. In addition, New York Downtown Hospital will use the facilities for decontamination and other emergency management training exercises.

“We are thrilled to see this unique private-public partnership come to fruition,” said Robert I. Grossman, MD, dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center. “What makes this simulation center so special is not only the advanced technology we use, but also the fact that it brings together nurses, doctors, medical students and first responders in a collaborative multidisciplinary setting. This will benefit both the healthcare professionals and the patients they will treat.”