By KALEY CONNER
Bertha lay in her hospital bed, her breathing increasingly raspy. She complained of a pain in her leg. Her heart rate began to rise, and her oxygen levels began to fall.
After a quick evaluation, nurse Katelyn Rippe recognized the 76-year-old woman could be suffering from a blood clot. She immediately called the doctor to prescribe the needed tests.
There is, however, something peculiar about Bertha. She is a high-fidelity simulation mannequin, or simply stated, a SimMan.
Hays Medical Center, with the help of a federal rural health grant, purchased the simulation technology to expand training opportunities for nurses in northwest Kansas.
Rippe, a registered nurse at HaysMed, said the hands-on training will be helpful.
"It shows you the presentation of the patient; they actually have signs and symptoms," she said of the mannequin. "You can hear different lung sounds rather than just reading about it."
The SimMan, controlled by a nearby computer, can demonstrate many types of medical emergencies, including traumatic injuries and cardiac distress.
"He can sweat, blink, cough and gag. He talks, and does just about everything," said Rebecca Sander, coordinator of the nurse residency program. "He's as close to human as we can possibly get, and that's why we like to use him for teaching."
The grant funds also were used to purchase a van, and SimMan soon will hit the road. The 24 critical access hospitals that comprise the Northwest Kansas Health Alliance will have access to the technology, Sander said.
Some nursing schools already use simulation mannequins, but HaysMed hopes to help working nurses continue their education and become more comfortable in different scenarios.
"The textbook's important," Sander said. "But when you have that actual dialogue and can work like that, that's the best way to learn."