National Simulation Center hosts training for safe patient handling - VHA SimLEARN
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National Simulation Center hosts training for safe patient handling

By Gerald Sonnenberg
EES Marketing and Communication

ORLANDO, Fla. – The VHA SimLEARN National Simulation Center (NSC) hosted a VHA Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPHM) Facilitator Coordinator training event March 27-29. The 188 staff who attended represented all of VA’s Veteran Integrated Service Networks and nearly all of its major VA medical centers.

The purpose of this training was to share best practices and develop advanced hands-on skills in safe patient handling and mobilization, simulation, coaching and mentoring. They also studied the evaluation and control of ergonomic hazards, so that SPHM facility coordinators (FC) can protect staff and patients while building effective SPHM programs that reduce employee injuries, improve patient outcomes, and meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expectations, as well as a new SPHM directive.

Five simulation stations were set up within the NSC. They included bariatric; early mobility/rehabilitation; outpatient/dental; outdoor vehicle extraction; and perioperative stations. The didactic portion of the conference was held at the Orlando VA Medical Center across the street, along with the ergonomic assessment rotation.

Simulation stations included an SPHM subject matter expert (SME), SimLEARN faculty and a SimLEARN simulation technician. Participants were debriefed after each simulation. Additional SimLEARN staff assisted with sign in, location of stations inside SimLEARN, and with debriefing participants.

In addition, 40 of the participants represented Patient Mobility and Rehabilitation (PM&R) which held additional breakout sessions related to early mobility and progressive mobility with observations and feedback.

“The Safe Patient Handling and Mobility program is important to reduce the injuries received by bedside care providers in the movement and mobility of patients,” said LeAnn Schlamb, MSN, RN, Ed.S, with SimLEARN’s clinical faculty/nursing. “Seeing the different equipment and gaining hands-on experience through simulation, shows participants how to apply knowledge at a facility to safely move our Veteran patients in various settings.” 

The success of the event could be measured with the positive reviews that Pauline (Tony) Hilton and Marie Martin, leaders of National Safe Patient Handling and Mobility, received for the training, as well as the hands-on learning provided by the NSC. Appreciation also goes out to the Employee Education System’s (EES) events division staff of Madelyn  Phillips, healthcare education specialist/project manager, and Maurice Pusha, education technician, who spent approximately six months helping plan this event, and then attending onsite to help carry out the logistics. As a result, the NSC has already been scheduled to host the training again in 2020.

Schlamb added, “The conference was engaging as subject matter experts from the field presented and collaborated with SimLEARN faculty to have an engaging and immersive experience.” 

Tony Hilton, DrPH, RN, MSN, FNP, CRRN, national program manager, Safe Patient Handling and Mobility, said, "We are immensely appreciative of SimLEARN and the Orlando VA Medical Center for supporting us and focusing on SimLEARN as a best practice for training. SPHM presents a dual benefit to assure the safety of our Veterans and their caregivers across all settings. Our conference theme was “Mission Possible” as we kicked off our revised SPHM Directive 1611. Our staff injuries over the past 10 years have been reduced by 50 percent, and now we move toward realizing a number of patient benefits including reduction in patient falls, pressure injuries prevention, early and continuous mobility and many other patient outcomes. We are uniquely positioned to support VHA's top five priorities to make a positive experience for our staff and Veterans. SimLEARN, afforded us a safe environment to learn and take home principles that will be replicated in individual medical center facilities. This is a new day for us. Thanks SimLEARN, we hope to be back soon!"

For more information about the VHA SimLEARN National Simulation Center, click here.