DAYTONA BEACH — For the last five years, Edythe Mellen, 96, has remained confined to her hospital bed.
Unable to care for herself, Mellen’s legs remain bandaged from pressure ulcers that developed from her lack of movement. She suffers from emphysema, organic brain disease and dementia. She’s a habitual complainer, and behind her back staff sometimes refer to Mellon as a “dummy.”
Because that’s exactly what she is.
As a training dummy at Daytona State College, Mellen shares a room with a number of other sick or infirmed “patients” in the simulation lab. She was one of the star attractions Thursday when a group of about 90 Mainland High School students visited the college and Halifax Hospital for the first ever Health Expo.
Mainland students in the Scientific Inquiry and Medicine career academy, mostly sophomores, were split into groups of 15 and visited various stations throughout both locations.
At the college, stations included a respiratory lab, full-body simulation lab and admissions sections. At the hospital, students visited a radiology, nursing and clinical lab.
Dummies like Mellen are much more advanced than those found in a standard high school CPR class. Controlled by nursing students running computers from behind a two-way mirror, they’re able to talk, breathe — and even defecate — or at least, simulate it.
“They can do everything but walk away,” said Kim Beechler Daytona State’s training lab coordinator.
Like a flight simulator to a pilot, the dummies help prepare college students for the nuances of working on people while being a little more forgiving of mistakes, Beechler said.
And for the expo, college students reversed roles and became teachers for the day. Ditching their textbooks for some hands-on experience, the high school students got an up close and personal taste of what it’s like to work in the medical profession.
“I liked how hands-on it was, how they explained everything so thoroughly and didn’t treat us like children,” tenth-grader Jade Smith said.
Sometimes, as with the handwashing section, it went well. Other times, as when sitting the notably heavy Mellen up in her bed, overzealous students made a few mistakes.
Upon ruffling Mellen’s hair, an angry voice from unmoving lips let them know she wasn’t happy about.
Tenth-grader Natalie Race said she’s always been interested in health care and wants to become a trauma surgeon.
Race said she learned how to CPR correctly, but her favorite part of the visit was intubating a patient.
That happened in the college’s respiratory lab. There students learned the nuances of medical art, which to the untrained eye looks akin to shoving an icepick down one’s throat to pry it open before forcibly inserting a long plastic tube.
The dummies gave little protest as college respiratory student Anna Hardy supervised teens on the ins and outs of an occupation that’s filled with “a lot of snot and spit.”
“Go! Go! Go!” she said, as teens tried awkwardly to snake a tube down the throat in less than 15 seconds.
The frenetic pace was to limit one’s natural reflex to cough and gag, Hardy said.
Kristen Nations, a college nursing student, said it was inspiring to work with the high school students. Nations said she wished she had a program like Mainland’s academy when she was teenager.
Smith, who said she wants to be either a neurosurgeon or trauma surgeon, thought the expo was interesting and enjoyable. Her favorite part was intubating a patient, which she described as “exhilarating.”
Mainland student Kalan Dixon said she plans on joining the Marines before studying to become a surgeon. Dixon said she learned going into the medical field won’t be easy.
A kind heart rather than money needs to be one’s primary motivation, Dixon said.
And in the end, the experience proved a good benchmark on whether the students would be cut out for the challenging nature of the work. For Smith the answer was clear.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, I could do that in the real world,’” Smith said.
Source: Daytona Beach News Journal– Nov 17, 2017