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Lab is 'essential' to W.Va. school's nursing program

August 29, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A room described as once being in worse condition than a basement now houses a new nursing and EMS skills laboratory for Blue Ridge Community and Technical College that school officials and elected leaders "opened" Monday morning.

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by a number of area lawmakers, students and school leaders, college president Peter G. Checkovich said the lab was an "essential" part of the effort to keep the school's nursing program accredited.

College officials Monday also announced the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission had voted to accredit the school through 2012.

The school at 400 W. Stephen St. offers an associate degree in nursing, along with more than 40 other degree and certificate programs. About 2,200 students are enrolled at Blue Ridge, officials said.

"We need a lot of friends to accomplish our mission..." Checkovich said before thanking Sen. Walt Hemlock, D-W.Va., state community and technical college leader James Skidmore and private support from City Hospital and Valley Regional Enterprises.

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Helmick and Skidmore's efforts helped steer about $75,000 to the project, Checkovich said after the senator helped him cut a dark red ribbon stretched between two hospital beds in the room.

Faculty member Randy Spies demonstrated for the crowd how the lab's SimMan brand manikan (a full-body patient simulator) will be used to simulate a number of medical conditions for students.

The manikan can be used to simulate wounds such as compound fractures, gunshot wounds, burns and other realistic patient-care conditions in coordination with computer programmed breathing and pulse rates to more wholly reflect the medical circumstances, officials said.

A touch-screen monitor tracks the manikan's condition and teams of four to five students can work as a team to respond to it in an interactive scenario, Spies said after the ceremony.

Invited to speak at the celebration, Frank Heisey, executive director of Valley Regional, said the company was interested in supporting the program with an equipment grant to allow it to help meet the demand for nursing students.

"We're delighted to see the program here," Heisey said.

Checkovich said it cost about $100,000 to transform and outfit the room that formerly was a "dark, dingy" storage area.

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