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College Breaks Ground on State-of-the-Art Medical Simulation Center

January 13, 2009

Drexel University College of Medicine broke ground this morning on a $9.3 million expansion that will house a state-of-the-art medical simulation center and serve as the new home for the nation’s only leadership training program for women in medicine and its archives.

The Independence Blue Cross Medical Simulation Center at Drexel University College of Medicine will be among the most innovative simulation facilities in the nation – featuring life-like robots, screen-based simulation programs and newly designed “standardized patient” encounter rooms. The Simulation Center will share space with the Institute for Women’s Health & Leadership and the Archives and Special Collections in the expansion at the medical school’s Queen Lane campus.

Plans were unveiled Dec. 18 during a groundbreaking celebration at the College of Medicine’s Queen Lane campus in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.

The computer-driven robotic mannequins called high-fidelity patient simulators exhibit life-like vital signs, including heartbeats, blood pressures, and body and eye movements. They can be programmed to display a variety of normal and abnormal conditions, and to respond realistically to student interventions, such as intubation, drug injection, or cardiac defibrillation. They can even be programmed to speak or cry out in pain.

In addition to the simulators, the center will include a suite of exam rooms equipped with digital audio and visual recording capabilities for use in standardized patient exam encounters. Standardized patients are actors who are taught to portray various clinical conditions and who are trained to provide feedback to students and residents. Drexel University College of Medicine was the first medical school in Philadelphia to employ standardized patients in the 1980’s (at what was then Medical College of Pennsylvania).

“Drexel University College of Medicine has long been a pioneer in incorporating the latest technology in our medical training,” said Richard Homan, MD, Annenberg Dean and senior vice president for health affairs. “This simulation center will provide a tremendous opportunity for practicing physicians, our students and our residents to enhance their skills and improve patient safety. One of our goals is to collaborate with engineers and media discovery to develop new simulation prototypes for the future. We are extremely grateful to Independence Blue Cross for its generous gift and strong support of our goals.”

The medical simulation center is being funded in part through a $2.5 million donation from Independence Blue Cross.

“IBC is pleased to partner with Drexel University College of Medicine, which is known nationally for its innovative medical training," said Joseph Frick, IBC president and CEO. “Our investment in this state-of-the-art Simulation Center is an investment in our community and our mission to improve the health of people in our region and beyond.”

New wing to also house leadership programs/archives

The new addition will also house Drexel University College of Medicine’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership and the Office of Executive Leadership in Academics, which includes the nationally respected Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program. ELAM® is the nation's only in-depth program focused on preparing senior women faculty at schools of medicine, dentistry and public health to move into positions of institutional leadership where they can effect positive change.

The wing will also serve as the home of the College’s Archives and Special Collections, a vast and impressive compilation of records and heritage of Drexel University College of Medicine and its predecessor institutions, including Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (the first medical school in the world for women) and Hahnemann Medical College. The bulk of the collections fall between 1835 and the present, and include books, photographs, costumes, medical instruments and other teaching tools.

In total, the new addition will encompass 25,000 square feet of space over three floors. Anticipated completion date is August 2009.