Hospice of Washington County brings advanced skills laboratory to Hagerstown
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Karen M. Giffin, AVP of Mission Advancement
Hospice of Washington County will soon be hosting one of the most advanced training labs in the nation, designed specifically to enhance the skills and knowledge of hospice nurses. It’s a simulation lab that utilizes lifelike, adult and pediatric medical training Lifecast manikins in exactly the type of homelike environment where Hospice of Washington County provides care every day.
The new Simulation Lab will utilize lifelike, adult and pediatric medical training Lifecast manikins in exactly the type of homelike environment where Hospice of Washington County provides care every day. This is a photo of the Simulation Lab at The NorthStar Institute, the education and training arm of the NorthStar Care Community.
The Simulation Lab is being brought to Hospice of Washington County and Franklin Hospice thanks to the generous support of The Einbinder Foundation, a private, Hagerstown-based foundation with a long history of support for projects and programs at Hospice of Washington County.
The Simulation Lab was developed by The NorthStar Institute, the education and training arm of the NorthStar Care Community. Founded in 2017, the NorthStar Care Community is anchored by Hospice of Michigan and Arbor Hospice (Ann Arbor, Mich.), two of the nation’s leading community-based, not-for-profit hospice providers. Offering cutting-edge, hands-on tools and resources, the Simulation Lab provides hospice clinicians with advanced, real-world training and education focused on the mastery of both technical skills and facilitating effective conversations around death and dying.
“The Sim Lab helps further the Hospice of Washington County mission of serving the community by providing quality end-of-life care,” said Sara A. McKay, acting CEO of Hospice of Washington County. “In recent years, Hospice of Washington County has been collaborating with and sharing best practices with like-minded not-for-profit hospices across the country. This partnership with the NorthStar Care Community is a great example of the benefits we’re seeing from this kind of outreach.”
The Simulation Lab will provide Hospice of Washington County clinicians real-world training focused on technical skills and effective conversations around death and dying. This is a photo of the Simulation Lab at The NorthStar Institute, the education and training arm of the NorthStar Care Community.
How does it work? The Sim Lab is housed in a room that has the look and feel of a patient bedroom, according to Lu Ann Onufer, BSN, Hospice of Washington County’s administrative director of quality. The room is wired for sound, with the nurse running the simulation serving as the “voice” of the patient. This allows clinicians participating in the training to practice their clinical skills and the communication skills vital to compassionate hospice care, Onufer noted. “The advanced medical manikin will allow our nurses to practice and refine a variety of vital clinical skills—inserting foley catheters, peritoneal drains and pleural drains; caring for wounds at various stages of development; accessing intravenous ports; and inserting a line to deliver fluids—through real-life situations without compromising patient dignity.”
McKay added, “This is really going to help with recruitment and retention of nurses. Hospice is not something nurses are generally taught in school. When a clinician comes to hospice, it’s usually because they’ve had a personal experience with hospice. The Sim Lab gives us the ability to build on the basic skillsets that nurses bring with them—and also build on the skillsets that our current hospice staff have.”
“Because we lost a lot of hands-on education time during the COVID public health emergency, we find ourselves training a lot of nurses who are newer to hospice,” Onufer explained. “These skills are really important. Our nurses need to feel confident when they go out to perform any of these procedures on an actual patient. With the availability of the Sim Lab, nurses can refresh their skills whenever they feel the need and practice a skill as many times as they need.”
In addition to providing the training curriculum and the Sim Lab, experts from the NorthStar Institute will be able to participate in individual training sessions via video conferencing, emphasizing the collaborative nature of this initiative.
“We’re so fortunate that we have a community that, when Hospice of Washington County identifies a need, and we reach out to our friends and supporters that they respond generously to fund these needs,” said Karen Giffin, associate vice president of mission advancement. “We believe this will encourage staff to be hospice certified. It underscores the high priority we place on both quality and education. Education and skills development are the basis for quality hospice care.”
“The Sim Lab will be a huge difference-maker for us now—and well into the future,” McKay concluded.
About Hospice of Washington County
A leader in community-based, mission-driven end-of-life care in the Mid-Atlantic, Hospice of Washington County provides palliative care, hospice care, and comprehensive grief and bereavement care throughout Washington County, Md. Founded in 1980 by a core group of local citizens, Hospice of Washington County has been able to meet community need for serious illness and grief and bereavement care thanks to the generous support of a caring community. Its stand-alone, 12-bed inpatient hospice care center, Doey’s House, opened in 2017 to offer a home-away-from-home for hospice patients requiring 24/7 pain and symptom management for brief periods. Hospice of Washington County’s comprehensive grief and bereavement programs for children, teens, and adults are open free of charge to anyone in the community who has suffered a loss. In 2020, Hospice of Washington County launched Franklin Hospice in Chambersburg, Penn., to serve patients throughout Franklin County, Penn. Under the direction of its Board of Directors comprised of distinguished local business, healthcare, and community leaders, Hospice of Washington County works each day to fulfill its mission of “embracing individual needs with love, kindness, and compassionate care while creating meaningful end-of-life experiences for our patients and families.”