Health Care

Med simulation center high on dean's wish list

If taking the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita from a two- to a four-year campus weren't enough to keep him busy, Dean H. David Wilson has another project in mind.

He wants Wichita to build a regional simulation center where the health professions could practice on high-tech mannequins.

Pilots use simulation centers to practice moves over and over again "so that, reflexively, they do the right thing," he said. Computerized mannequins help health professionals do the same.

Health care is Wichita's second-largest industry, Wilson said, and a regional center that would be the health equivalent of the National Center for Aviation Training makes sense.

The health professions already use simulation. The medical school is among the places locally that have sophisticated mannequins that can be programmed to present different scenarios and medical complications.

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer saw a health simulation center during a 2007 Visioneering visit to Jacksonville, Fla.

"It was amazing," he said. "They had really advanced technology with the mannequins they had that were linked to computers and taught nurses, taught doctors."

The center also could be used for law enforcement and emergency medical personnel from throughout the state, Brewer said.

Wilson said Newman University, Wichita State University, Butler Community College and others are among the places that already use simulation mannequins.

He envisions all of them in a central place and has talked to representatives about his idea. He estimates a center would cost $20 million to $25 million.

A regional simulation center also could have economic development possibilities, he said, should companies want to use it as a test center for manufacturing the mannequins or parts of them, for example.

"We have to look for business opportunities that could occur with this," he said.