Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Plan for Stan the Man

The patient doesn’t have insurance, has no co-pay and spends every day flat on his back in a hospital bed. And while there is absolutely no chance he’ll get up and walk out of the hospital some day, it won’t be for a lack of medical attention.

The patient resides at Martin Memorial and there isn’t another like him in a Florida hospital. Of course technically he’s not a man – or a human – at all.

Rather, he is a highly sophisticated patient simulator purchased by Martin Memorial to help train nurses entering critical care areas – such as intensive care, emergency department and surgical areas – as well as nurses new to the hospital.

The simulator is called iStan by manufacturer Medical Education Technologies, Inc., but nicknamed Stan the Man at Martin Memorial. The health system purchased him with the help of Peter and Gayle Grimm, Harbour Ridge residents who provided a gift to the Martin Memorial Foundation.

On March 3, Martin Memorial had a demonstration of what Stan can do. And to be honest, it was a little freaky for anyone who’s seen the “Terminator” movies and worries about machines taking over the world.

He breathed, often loudly. He blinked. He sweated. He talked. In other words, it was like sitting next to someone on a long airplane flight.

A computer can program Stan to have all kinds of different ailments and problems, which will be diagnosed and treated by the nurses according to the symptoms he presents. He had two heart attacks on Monday, but fortunately he was surrounded by nurses who brought him back to life.

Even his skin feels real-ish. A coworker of mine touched one of his toes and recoiled quickly, as if she were sticking her hand in a barrel of fish guts. “It’s creepy!” she said of the realistic skin attached to the toe.

And yes, standing above this automated hunk of electronics and plastic and engineering wizardry, it is a little un-nerving to see him blink at you with one eye dilated. “What are you looking at?” I imagined him saying.

What nursing leaders are saying is that Stan will be a big help with training. That will assist Martin Memorial in retaining and recruitment of nurses, while at the same time continuing to promote patient safety by increasing the clinical staff’s level of training.

After all, with a piece of such high technology around, Stan’s already made one thing obvious – he’s no dummy.

-- Scott Samples
Public Information Coordinator

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