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New Biotechnology and Medical Simulation Center Will Revolutionize Area Health Care Education

September 10, 2015: View of the Tarboro Street side of ECC’s new Biotechnology and Medical Simulation Center.

September 10, 2015: View of the Tarboro Street side of ECC’s new Biotechnology and Medical Simulation Center.

The real thing is coming to Edgecombe.

In January 2016, Edgecombe Community College will begin training health sciences students in its new Biotechnology and Medical Simulation Center, a state-of-the-art facility that will launch a new era in health care education for the region.

Construction began in October 2014 and is nearing completion. The three-story, 45,000-square-foot facility located on the Rocky Mount campus will house 14 of the college’s 22 health sciences programs with the capacity to add new programs.

The cornerstone of the new center is a simulated hospital environment. Rooms will be set up to function like emergency rooms, operating rooms, ICUs, nurses stations, and the back of an ambulance.

“The new health sciences building will change everything about how we train students at the college,” says ECC President Dr. Deborah Lamm.

“We’ve been using patient simulators for years, but we’ve never been able to use them in a simulated hospital environment. Students will be able to learn and make mistakes in a setting that replicates the workplace.”

The simulated hospital will encompass 20,000 square feet in the new Biotechnology and Medical Simulation Center. This environment lies at the heart of what will make teaching and learning unique in eastern North Carolina. The hospital will be equipped with interactive mannequins that will enable students to perform advanced life support skills.

Currently, students stand by and watch clinicians perform these skills on live patients. In the new simulated hospital, they will be able to work in teams to assess and treat the simulated patients.

“Students are the stars of this teaching modality,” says Ralph Webb, chair of respiratory therapy at ECC. “This will be a tremendous learning tool.”

“The simulated hospital will be very different for Eastern North Carolina,” says Dr. Lamm. “Students who train with us will have the very same equipment and the same scenarios they would see in the workplace.

“We are confident they will have a seamless transition when they graduate and enter the workforce.”

Many educational institutions in the area offer simulated labs, but none have simulated hospital environments, according to Dr. Lamm.

“We will have something really special, not just for our students but also for local health care professionals who come to us for specialized training.”

Wick Baker, president of Vidant Edgecombe Hospital and chair of the Edgecombe Community College Board of Trustees, agrees that the new facility will be a “terrific way to train community college students as well as hospital staff who need refreshers or additional training.

“The different scenarios that can be programmed into the mannequins will really test the student’s hands-on knowledge in what can be a tense situation, so it mimics what takes place in a hospital and other health care settings in a safe environment. It’s a fantastic teaching tool.”

Edgecombe County and the Golden LEAF Foundation are providing funding for construction, while the college is providing funding for equipment and technology.

Completion of the Biotechnology and Medical Simulation Center is slated for November. Faculty will move into the building by December in anticipation of classes beginning in January 2016.