Kenya Kirkendoll, clinical instructor of nursing, and her group of fellow nursing faculty, along with Lewis School facilities manager, Kip Slade, recently opened the Community Health Simulation Lab in the basement of Kell Hall. Kirkendoll, a community health nurse, pursued the lab as means to best teach nursing and other health care students how to care for patients in home settings. Student currently receive instruction on hospital-based patient care in the existing Petit Science Center simulation labs and with local healthcare partners.
The lab is designed to mimic a small house or apartment with kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathrooms fully furnished. The students encounter environmental factors such as clutter, presence of pets, family members who smoke, or even a bathroom with no handrails or slip protection, all of which can impact a patient’s care in the home.
“One of the other major opportunities afforded by the community health simulation lab is that the area provides an arena in which students are sensitized to the needs and challenges faced by clients who live in poverty or low socioeconomic communities,” says Kirkendoll. “I think one of the greatest benefits of the lab is that as educators we are able to provide a tangible experience which helps students understand that patients are discharged from hospitals and rehabilitation centers into homes and communities that directly impact their health.”
According to 2010 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average length of stay in the hospital is four and half days. For hospitalization due to fractures, average length of stay only increased to an average of 5.2 to 6.1 days, less than a full week.
“The Community Health Simulation Laboratory provides an excellent opportunity for interprofessional collaboration and coordination of care among and between disciplines,” says Elaine Fisher, associate dean of nursing and professor. “Since many of our clients are discharged to home very quickly, the need for safety in their home environment and assistance to adapt their home environment based on their conditions is key to restoring health to its highest level.”