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2011 News Releases

Nursing Department instructional and simulation center dedicated

February 4, 2011

Dedication of the Nursing Department instructional and simulation center (From left to right) Nursing student Stacy Bolt; project manager Kim Bass (of Longwood Capital Planning & Construction); Dr. Melody Eaton, chair of the Nursing Department; Longwood President Patrick Finnegan; lead donor Dr. Edward Gordon; and Cindy Crews, clinical simulation director in the Nursing Department

The Longwood University Nursing Department's state-of-the-art instructional and simulation facility was dedicated recently.

The Edward I. Gordon, M.D. Clinical Simulation Learning Center (CSLC), located on the renovated third floor of Stevens Hall, is designed to advance the clinical and critical reasoning skills of Longwood nursing students in a safe environment. The facility was made possible by a $1 million gift from Dr. Edward Gordon, a longtime Farmville physician, in August 2009. The CSLC features high-tech equipment including manikins capable of simulating a remarkable array of physiological functions, called "high-fidelity patient simulators," and a digital audiovisual system that allows for live recordings of simulated experiences to be recorded and played back for faculty and student evaluation. The cameras and manikins are controlled from one central control station.

"The nursing students who will go through this program are going to save lives," Dr. Gordon said before he and others cut a ceremonial ribbon Feb. 1 in the corridor of the CSLC. "And they're going to save lives in a way that is so different from in the past because they'll go into their first clinical experiences with live people who actually talk back to them and know what to do and have been through some of the horrors of the mistakes that were made in the simulation lab but not in the real world. The amount of things that can be done here just appear to be endless, and the growth potential of this is also endless. This Center ties together all of the things that mean the most to me - health care, nursing, computers, Farmville and Longwood - and is more than I ever envisioned."

All of the funding for the work and equipment for the CSLC came from private donations and grants. Other donors include the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, and the Marietta McNeill Morgan and Samuel Tate Morgan, Jr. Foundation. The CSLC labs have been used since August 2010. Longwood's Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program, launched in fall 2009, currently has 74 students.

"You cannot help but be impressed by the Center and the technology that our students will have the opportunity to use to aid in their learning," Longwood President Patrick Finnegan said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "This Center puts our program on the cutting edge of educating and training these student nurses to help prepare them to be among the very best in their profession. Thank you, Dr. Gordon, for your outstanding support of this Center, for your enthusiasm for our nursing program, and for all your efforts on behalf of Longwood University. You are helping to make a difference in the lives our students, whom we know will go on to assist and serve others in an area of great need for our Commonwealth and our nation."

Dr. Melody Eaton, chair of the Nursing Department, also praised Dr. Gordon's generosity and touted the CSLC's benefits. "This Center will play a key and integral role in the success of our new nursing program," she said. "It will offer experiential learning in a safe environment. Students will enhance their knowledge, critical thinking skills, and confidence in caring for patients."

The CSLC includes two Patient Simulation Labs, two Fundamentals Labs, a Health Assessment Lab, a control room, a conference/debrief room, and a storage/prep room. "Anything that you can do in a clinical setting simulation lab, we can do here," said Cindy Crews, clinical simulation director and lecturer in the Nursing Department. The facility has four high-fidelity manikins and about 12 mid- and low-fidelity manikins, which are somewhat less advanced. The manikins are in the Patient Simulation and Fundamentals labs.

"All of the high-fidelity manikins can breathe, talk, and have a wide range of physiological responses," Crews said. "We can simulate anything from birth to death, and we have a manikin who delivers. We have adult, pediatric and infant manikins. 'Sim Man 3G' is one of the most advanced patient simulators. He can have seizures, blink and sweat, and he has bodily fluids. He runs the full gamut."

Crews, who earned a B.S.N. in 1996, said this type of nursing instruction wasn't available when she attended nursing school. "The use of high-fidelity patient simulators in nursing education kicked off in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and it became a mainstay in 2006," she said. "Most nursing schools now have some level of simulated nursing experiences. Virginia and Texas are leading the way in this field."

In the Patient Simulation Lab with Sim Man 3G, the manikin and software can calculate if students are doing effective chest compressions and medication administration. The other Patient Simulation Lab has, in addition to another high-fidelity manikin, a code cart with a working defibrillator. One Fundamentals Lab has five stations with mid-fidelity manikins on which students can check pulses, blood pressures and respirations and listen to lung, heart and bowel sounds. The other Fundamentals Lab has some high-fidelity manikins including Noelle, a "birthing simulator who actually delivers vaginally," said Crews, as well as Sim New B, a neo-natal simulator that weighs seven pounds and is 21 inches ("He cries, moves, has pulses, turns blue, and can have seizures," said Crews), a 20-pound toddler supposed to be about 18 months old, and an electronic medication-dispensing machine. Both Fundamentals Labs are set up with a 12-seat classroom (lab sections can't exceed 10 students).

In the Health Assessment Lab, which has five physical exam stations with functioning equipment, students practice doing physical assessments and histories. In the control room, each of the monitors goes to a separate room, and there is a continuous live video feed. "In this room you can communicate overhead and through the manikins to the students," Crews said. "It's like a whole different world in here!"

In the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dr. Gordon, surrounded by his four children and five of his eight grandchildren, talked of how his interest in medicine and computers began. As a young boy, Dr. Gordon developed polio, resulting in a year-long hospitalization and his desire to become a physician. When computers were first introduced, he tried to pique his son's curiosity by enrolling him in a class, at the now-defunct Longwood Campus School, to introduce him to the Commodore Vic-20 computer. Although his son was "not too fascinated," Dr. Gordon was "most intrigued," and he incorporated the use of computers into his medical practice. His early interest in using computers to enhance health care practices and his dedication as a practicing physician are among several strands of his life that led to his donation to Longwood's clinical simulation lab.

Edward I. Gordon, M.D. Clinical Simulation Learning Center (CSLC)
The CSLC includes two Patient Simulation Labs, two Fundamentals Labs, a Health Assessment Lab, a control room, a conference/debrief room, and a storage/prep room. "Anything that you can do in a clinical setting simulation lab, we can do here," said Cindy Crews, clinical simulation director and lecturer in the Nursing Department.

"Computers became intertwined with my health career, and I found I could become more productive in learning and in caring for patients by utilizing my medical knowledge with computers complementing this approach," he said. "So, when I was approached about the simulation lab that tied computers and medicine, the tie became perfect. It also tied two other loves of mine - Farmville, of which I am a citizen, and Longwood, which is a vital part of Farmville. And then it brought in the individuals who were instrumental in me doing every single thing that I do in medicine - nursing. What better way to look into a mirror and see who I am than to place all of this into one environment? What better way to reflect who I was than to put all of this into play? This is a perfect fit."

Dr. Gordon noted that his late wife was a nurse and all three of his daughters are nurses. He and his wife, Loretta, moved the family to Farmville in 1973 and began his pediatric and family  medicine practice that he continues today. Loretta, who died in 2005, was a licensed practical nurse (LPN) who managed his practice and served as his nurse until her retirement in 2003. His oldest daughter, Ginger Amos, is a registered nurse (RN) and radiology technician, practicing as his nurse and office manager. Another daughter, Deborah Gordon, a 1981 Longwood graduate, is an RN who practices as a nursing supervisor at Piedmont Geriatric Hospital, and another daughter, Gwen Buchanan, is an LPN who practices in the operating room at Centra Southside Community Hospital in Farmville. Dr. Gordon's son, Michael, a deputy with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department, is also involved in the medical profession as an emergency medical technician.

The renovation work that paved the way for the CSLC, called Phase I, was begun in April 2010 and completed by August 2010. It was done by Haley Builders of Ashland, which also did the recent Tabb Hall renovation, and the project manager for Longwood was Kim Bass of the Capital Planning and Construction office. When a new elevator was being installed during the renovation, the elevator shaft had to be cut out and enlarged to accommodate the hospital beds. Stevens Hall, which opened in 1951, was Longwood's science building for 54 years.

Phase II will renovate an open room of about 3,000 square feet at the Wheeler Mall end of Stevens Hall, also on the third floor, which begins at the alcove where the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held. That work, which Longwood officials hope will be done this summer and be ready by August, will create a student lounge, two debrief rooms, an additional Patient Simulator Lab for maternal and infant simulators, exam room, home health environment, and offices for some of the nursing faculty and the clinical simulation director. Offices for all the faculty and staff in the nursing program are currently on the second floor of Stevens, which is shared with some classrooms in the Art Department while Bedford Hall undergoes an addition and renovation. Non-lab classes in the Nursing Department meet on the second floor, which has a 44-seat classroom.

The nursing program has 34 sophomores and 40 freshmen. The goal is to admit 40 students every fall (44 were admitted last fall) and to have 120-160 students by 2014. One student, Stacy Bolt of Farmville, was chosen by her classmates to help cut the ribbon.

"The Nursing Department is in its infancy, but there is no doubt it has hit the ground running," Finnegan said at the ribbon-cutting. "From a competitive admissions process to innovative technology and terrific partnerships, this is a tremendous addition to Longwood's academic program, which also serves a great need in Southside Virginia. Our state has 624 nurses for every 10,000 residents, lagging well behind the national average of 746. In the last few years, Virginia has fallen from 40th to 45th among the state in nurses per capita. This program and these students are directly involved in Longwood's aim of graduating citizen leaders who contribute to the overall good of society. Having been married to an RN for almost 40 years now, I have a deep appreciation for what nurses do to assist those in need."

In the CSLC, the audiovisual system was provided by a company called Education Management Solutions, the high- and mid-fidelity manikins were provided by Laerdal, medical equipment and supplies were provided by Pocket Nurse, and the headwalls, which have suction, oxygen and compressed air, were provided by Modular Services.

In addition to Dr. Gordon's family practice, he is the chief physician to The Woodland retirement community, medical director for Piedmont Regional Jail and the Farmville Police Department, and a Commonwealth of Virginia medical examiner for Prince Edward and Cumberland counties. He is a member of the Longwood Board of Visitors and Farmville Town Council.

When Dr. Gordon was handed a pair of scissors shortly before the ribbon-cutting, he joked "Now remember, I'm not a surgeon."