ALBANY -- Many health care workers in hospitals have little experience working with babies in emergency situations until they encounter the real thing.
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is looking to change that.
Compliments of Children's Miracle Network, the hospital is now able to use a simulation infant known as "SimNewB."
The baby is part of a new system that allows health care workers having direct contact with infants to practice emergency scenarios on a real-size subject that interacts with those using it.
"She is a wonderful new tool," said Neonatal Outreach Coordinator Mindy Spencer. "It helps staff to handle code situations."
The National Resuscitation Program (NRP) calls for all health care workers dealing with babies directly to take classes to help them train for emergency situations. The device, which has been in use at Phoebe for roughly three weeks, has been instituted into the program.
"About 10 percent or more of our babies are going to need some help," Spencer said. "Some need a little help, some need a ventilator and some are basically born dead. This is the best tool to prepare our staff for that.
"It's an innovative way to get hands-on training. There's no better way to do it than run it step-by-step."
The device is connected to a computer that controls the simulation. The device is able to conduct scenarios such as arrhythmia, seizures, effects from near-drownings and the simulated baby can also turn blue in a scenario in which an infant is not getting enough oxygen. Those using it can feel a heartbeat or see chest movements to indicate signs of life.
Along the way, the computer records everything in the simulation so trainees can look over the process later in order to learn what to improve upon.
Additionally, there are ways to learn in the moment what one is doing wrong.
"If they are doing something wrong and I am sitting at the computer, I can make the baby not improve," Spencer said.
In the past, the most health care workers have had to work with is a doll's head to perform intubations on. Having something closer to the real thing is a big improvement.
"It gives us almost a real-life situation without it having to be a real baby," said Phoebe nurse Margaret Funk. "This baby has interacted with us, and nothing (before) has interacted with us. It can teach us where to improve. This is just a wonderful thing to have."
Belinda Frazier, a fellow Phoebe nurse, gave a similar viewpoint.
"It's reactive to what you do," she said. "That's a big advantage."
The device has also been used by four nurses from Memorial Hospital in Adel who have been receiving hands-on training and continuing education through a perinatal fellowship pilot program at Phoebe.
"It is a fantastic tool for these nurses," Spencer said.
Hundreds of health care workers in the region have been educated through the eight-hour NPR class, which reaches several other hospitals in Southwest Georgia. Several such sessions are conducted in the area each week as needed, Spencer said.
Officials expect to be using the device to its full capacity in April. The cost for the baby, which was manufactured by Laerdal, is estimated to
be roughly $24,000.