Improving Health Access & Education

RHIC Simulation Center Hosts Healthy Halloween Spooktacular

ISU Nursing Students Received a First Hand Lesson in Disaster Training

Simulations Offer Students Hands-On Practice in Indiana State’s Athletic Training Educator Course

December 4, 2015

Two walkie-talkies seemed sufficient when Carolyn Hampton began coordinating medical staff during the first scenario at a high school wrestling tournament.

But once one actor experienced a simulated ankle sprain while another actor suffered a spine injury and then another actor replicated a seizure, the first lesson had been learned: better communication in such events is key.

"You really need to be aware of your surroundings and be organized beforehand because when you're not, we saw during the simulation what can happen," said Hampton, an athletic trainer with ATI Physical Therapy in Terre Haute who is enrolled in Indiana State University's doctor of athletic training program. "I now know how important it is to have an emergency action plan drawn out beforehand, so that everyone knows what they need to do when something happens, instead of people running around like crazy trying to figure things out on the fly."

The students, who are licensed and practicing clinicians, are enrolled in the athletic training educator course, which focuses on teaching and learning but not always in the traditional sense. Students were provided with literature and interactive learning activities as they prepared to create the simulations, said Lindsey Eberman, director of the post-professional doctorate in athletic training program.

"Ours is the only doctoral program of this kind that is currently seeking accreditation, so we are aiming to create novel ideas and unique experiences that will allow the students in our program to be leaders in the profession," she said.

For their 30-minute simulations, which were held at the indoor athletic facility at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, students divided into teams of two to four to replicate scenarios like the Boston Marathon bombing, multi-trauma wrestling event, an extreme endurance event with an electrical obstacle and cardiac incidents. The students also debriefed after each simulation to discuss what happened and how to make their performance better.

"These are the future leaders of the profession and they are learning to lead through education, so these simulations are all drawn from real life and the students are tasked with creating a realistic learning environment for their classmates," Eberman said. "Our students in the clinical Doctorate in Athletic Training program...have enrolled in our program because they hope to develop clinical expertise and become advanced practice leaders. The students learn that every conversation is an opportunity to teach others, so they begin to look at teaching beyond the classroom to see that they teach students, peers, patients and the public."

Creating the best educational environment requires a significant number of volunteers and actors, which is where the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative Simulation Center at Union Hospital in Terre Haute stepped in.

"Students can get general skills in a lab or even in a simulation, but when it comes to preparing for those events we hope never happen, the simulation is a great tool," said Laura Livingston, clinical simulation specialist for the RHIC Center which provided three paid actors and six staff members to assist with the Simulation Day along with 25 Indiana State nursing and athletic training students and two faculty members. "The students know what they need more of in their education, so with help from me and their instructors, they planned these scenarios to help them learn how to be better educators and learn how to delegate and prioritize tasks when the time comes."

The outcomes are likely better for patients if athletic training professionals are equipped to respond to worst-case scenarios like the simulations provided, said Addam Kitchen, an athletic trainer for Indiana State's cross country and track and field programs.

"That's really what this class aims to do - make learning an objective - and activities like these simulations help us, not only to practice what we do, but to learn where we need to make adjustments in our practices so we can better serve people," he said. "We really wanted to make the simulations feel as real as possible, so that if these events happen, we'll be more prepared to step up and act."

Contact: Lindsey Eberman, associate professor of applied medicine and rehabilitation, Indiana State University,

Paramedic, EMTs Practice Hands-On Response to Real-Life Emergencies

“My baby isn’t breathing,” yells the mother of a newborn infant delivered at home.

That began the simulation of an obstetrical emergency training session for Terre Haute Fire Department paramedics and EMTs on Thursday.

Paramedics quickly began resuscitation on the infant-sized high-fidelity simulator, checking its airway, pulse and respiration during the training. Union Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit teams and the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative oversaw the response.

Several THFD first responders received the training as part of the RHIC Neonatal Outreach Program designed for critical access hospitals across the Wabash Valley. The program is designed to improve the confidence and competence of first responders when dealing with maternal and neonatal emergencies.

While at-home deliveries are not common, they do happen, and can be high-stress situations for everyone involved. It was training paramedics and EMTs agreed can come in handy.

“We don’t have the opportunity to get much hands-on with newborns, so any time that we have the opportunity to get this kind of training, it’s something we jump on,” firefighter paramedic Lucas Puckett said after he successfully completed a simulation with fellow responders Elijah Turner and Billy Holloway.

Their infant simulator survived his ordeal, and the team received compliments and advice by observing neonatal nurses who deal with newborn situations on a regular basis.

“It’s one of those low-frequency calls. We don’t get a whole lot of them, but any time we do, it’s a high-stress situation,” Puckett said. “It makes us that much better care providers for our patients. The RHIC simulators are very lifelike, so it just adds that much more realism to the situation, and it makes us that much more aware of what it will be like in real life.”

As teams responded to different situations — in one case, a woman was in active labor at her home, while in others, the infant needed emergency care — the simulation program was operated through computers in another room. Laura Livingston was close enough to hear the dialogue of the responders, and could change the simulation as it was running.

“Every scenario is different,” Livingston said, “and we can change it according to what they do.”

Jack Jaeger, director of the RHIC Simulation Center, said situations are prevalent enough that if responders don’t know what to do, there would be several bad outcomes happening in the Wabash Valley.

“Learning in a classroom is much different than what we try to do,” Jaeger said of the simulations. “All of our stuff is simulation-based, and learning hands-on. You’re learning in a much better way so you remember it down the road.”

Thursday’s training took place at the THFD Training Center off of Brown Avenue.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

After Expansion, RHIC Can Train More Health Care Workers About Proper Precautions

Published on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 16:12

Originally published in Tribune Star
January 26, 2015

In a hall, a student stood casually while dressed in protective gear that would be used to treat an Ebola patient. In another room, a student sat oblivious to the object "impaled" through her collar bone area, the result of an explosion at a frat party. (She suffered from a mock injury at a made­up explosion).

Nearby, a "room of horrors" showed all the things that shouldn't happen in a hospital or medical setting; it included oxygen tubing wrapped around a mannequin's neck; a catheter bag on a floor; syringes on a bed; trash overflowing and blood in several places. All pose patient safety or possible infection issues.

An unusual site, maybe, but it was part of an open house last week for the newly ­expanded RHIC Simulation Center, at Union Hospital West in the former intensive care unit.

The Simulation Center recently added 1,000 square feet and three high­tech human patient simulators, giving it twice as much space and more than three times as many patient simulators than when it opened in 2011. It now has 10 patient simulators, including adults and infants.

The various demonstrations show what the RHIC Simulation Center can be used for, including education of health care staff about proper precautions and procedures for Ebola patients. The Center and its "patients" also can be used for mass casualty training.

The "room of horrors" is used for general nursing orientation. "Students have to go in and figure out what's wrong in the room," said Jack Jaeger, director of the RHIC Simulation Center.

RHIC stands for Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, which involves 14 education, health care, government and community partners. At the newly expanded center, future health care workers can learn to deliver babies, practice sutures, start IV lines and respond to health emergencies.

The simulators, or lifelike electronic "patients," can be programmed to mimic actual human conditions. "Our simulators can cry, bleed and sweat. They can do everything, just about, except walk," Jaeger said. "We can make their heart stop beating. We can make them stop breathing ... and 30 seconds later, we can bring them back to life."

The center, now in its fourth year, "has had exponential growth ... we felt we needed to expand," Jaeger said. Four partners use the center on a regular basis, Indiana State University, Ivy Tech, the IU School of Medicine (Terre Haute) and Union Hospital. "We had 4,950 students or participants come through here last year, and this year we expect 6,800."

The RHIC center also does training with area hospitals.

It is used by students preparing for a wide variety of health care professions as well as current practitioners undergoing continuing education or training. In one program, the center actually takes a labor/delivery simulator to area hospitals, where staff deliver the baby in the emergency room. It's part of RHIC's "neonatal outreach program."

The simulation center is important for several reasons. "Patient safety is the primary thing we are concerned with," Jaeger said. "There is a huge amount of evidence that a lot of things that go wrong in hospital settings are because of communication errors and because of medication errors and things like that." At the center, participants learn how to prevent those mistakes in a safe environment that can't harm a patient.

Among those participating in the open house was Elaine Anderson, 20, an ISU nursing student who sustained the serious "injury" at the make­believe frat party. She said she uses the simulation lab for every class with a clinical component. "It gives us experiences we might not typically get on a dayto­day basis," she said.

Jade Schitter, another ISU nursing student, wore protective gear, including a breathing apparatus, to demonstrate what health care professionals would wear if treating an Ebola patient. "I'm sure Ebola will be in our curriculum sometime," she said.

Ric McKanna, respiratory therapist at Union, showed how one of the patient­simulators can be used to teach students respiratory care, including use of a ventilator. The "patient's" physical conditions can be changed to make it easier or more difficult to perform certain tasks, just as it would be in real life.

Another patient­simulator was an elderly person that could cry, salivate, turn blue and be programmed for various health issues. Operators "can move his jaw and talk to you from the other room," said Andrew Mathis, who is in ISU's physician assistant program. The patient had diabetic neuropathy, "and if you grab his foot, they can make him say ouch."

In another area, students and health care providers can practice a variety of procedures, including sutures, IVs, wound care, intubation and use of s.

RHIC was launched in 2008 with a focus on under­served rural communities.

Rural Health Innovation Collaborative Simulation Center Sets Open House

Published on Monday, 12 January 2015 20:23

Originally published on Indiana State University Newsroom

The Rural Health Innovation Collaborative Simulation Center has scheduled an open house of its newly expanded facilities for 1 - 5 p.m. Jan. 20.

The center, located in Union Hospital West in the former intensive care unit, recently added 1,000 square feet and three high-tech human patient simulators, giving it twice as much space and more than three times as many patient simulators than when it opened in 2011.

The expansion includes a diagnostics lab that houses many of the center's most sophisticated technological pieces, including the Anatomage Table, which allows students to perform virtual 3-D dissections, and three virtual reality simulators. A new training center has been added, allowing students and current practitioners to practice a wide variety of procedural skills on their own time. The center's integrated audio visual system has been expanded to include a third control room, allowing the facility to accommodate three high-fidelity simulations at the same time.The addition of a third control room allows the center to train more people at the same time and to record additional training on video, enabling instructors and participants to see firsthand how each session is going, said center director Jack Jaeger.

Launched in 2008 to build on Terre Haute's position as a center for innovation in rural health care, the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative develops and implements health care policies and procedures for the unique needs of under-served rural communities and provides inter-professional education for current and future health care providers. The collaborative of 14 education, health care, government and community development partners is also working to revitalize a Terre Haute neighborhood that lies between the Indiana State University campus and Union Hospital.

Several Honored at 2014 Annual Meeting

Published on Thursday, 11 December 2014 19:33

Outgoing board members, Wayne Hutson, Dr. James Buechler, Mayor Duke Bennett, and Steve Witt, were honored for their service at the 2014 RHIC Annual Meeting in November. Simulation Center Director, Jack Jaeger, was also recognized for his efforts.

Accountable Care Program Expands

Published on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 15:03

Originally Published on Indiana State University Newsroom

It's a given that doctors, nurses and physician assistants can help keep people healthy and prevent recently discharged patients from returning to the hospital and racking up higher medical bills.

But what about occupational therapists, recreational therapists and psychologists? Is there a role for social workers, health educators and other allied health professionals?

Leaders of a Wabash Valley educational and health care partnership say collaboration across the full spectrum of health care offers the best outcome for patients. That's why they've expanded a pilot program launched in 2013 with physician assistant students to include 274 graduate and undergraduate students from eight Indiana State University programs.

The students are working in the Union Hospital emergency department and at four skilled health care facilities - where patients have been sent upon their release from the hospital.

"Collaboration and inter-professional education is at the core of the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative's mission," said Stephanie Laws, executive director. "It is especially important in today's era of shortages in primary health care providers, and it is vital for patients in underserved rural areas."

Students in a community health nursing class are working with the nursing facilities and the Franciscan Union Accountable Care Organization management team to collect population-based readmission data and diagnoses to provide onsite clinical education in conjunction with the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative Simulation Center.

"The nurses see the patients every day so they see little changes, and it's those little changes that we see that are going to prevent something bigger from happening," said Nicole Sgouroudis, a senior from Lowell who is among four students in the class working with patients at Meadows Manor North and Meadows Manor East.

"This is a diverse opportunity for inter-professional education with a focus on population based health," said Paula Price, program coordinator for the Lifespan Healthy Living Initiative at Indiana State.

Psychology students are involved in the program by conducting mental health assessments of patients in the nursing facilities.

"This is especially important for geriatric patients," said Ruth Viehoff, a third-year student in Indiana State's psychology doctorate program. "We often see medical issues interact with psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety and dementia. Many people have longstanding psychological problems that they haven't received treatment for in their lifetime."

Other students have conducted patient satisfaction surveys for the hospital in its emergency room.

"We've found that patients who are more satisfied with their care are less likely to have return visits to the ER," said Krista Currier of Columbus, Ind., a student in Indiana State's master's degree program in occupational therapy. "It's also a good experience for us to see how occupational therapy could help in the ER and get ideas as to how we could be more involved with primary care. By finding out what sorts of things patients who leave here are having trouble with when they go home, we could teach them how to deal with those problems."

Rebecca Kemen of Carmel, also an occupational therapy student, said, ""It would be good to have an occupational therapist come down to the ER to assess a patient before they are discharged by a doctor, to see whether or not they will need therapy services once they are sent home."

Maggie Hayne, nursing care manager in the hospital's emergency department, said, "The goal was to give students an opportunity to enhance their communications skills at the bedside and ultimately result in an improved learning experience for the students and an improved positive experience for the patient."

Recreational therapy students have met with patients at skilled nursing facilities, including Springhill Village, to assess "if they were happy with their lives, enjoying their life at the village and if there was anything we could address through recreational therapy," said Julia Chaney, a senior from Springville. "With physical therapy they would have to work at it, but in recreational therapy they would have fun while working hard so it would keep them interested and active."

Amanda Engle, a senior from Plainfield, said "recreational therapy treats the patient as a whole. We're not treating them just physically with the ailment that got them there or just mentally. We're treating them mentally, socially, physically, spiritually - in all aspects to help them have better well-being all around."

Children Celebrate a Healthy Halloween

Published on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 14:32

Local kids got the chance to celebrate Halloween in a health-conscious way on Monday.

The Rural Health Innovation Collaborative Simulation Center hosted the Healthy Halloween Spectacular. The event featured a costume contest and educational activities. Kids could get a free health screening and enjoy healthy treats. Organizers say it's a great opportunity for everyone involved.

"It's aimed at providing some healthy education for parents and kids, as well as giving us an opportunity to promote the simulation center and all the things that we do through the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative," says Jack Jaeger, the director of RHIC. The simulation center provides education to students in various types of medical fields.

The Shock of Trauma

Published on Monday, 27 October 2014 14:40

By: Dianne Frances D. Powell
Tribune Star

The scenario was a "sorority party gone wrong."

In the fictional nighttime scenario, there was an explosion at a house and partiers suffered injuries ranging from serious to minor.

About 150 Indiana State University health care students — who are pursuing degrees in nursing and other health-related fields — participated in training on Friday that gave them hands-on learning experience in caring for trauma patients.

Some played the roles of victims, first respondents, emergency medical personnel and triage officers.

The session was organized by Indiana State University's College of Nursing, Health and Human Services and presented by Meredith J. Addison, who has 35 years of nursing experience and is a volunteer member of the Indiana State Trauma Care Committee.

It was an event to help prepare future health care professionals for their roles.

"For these 150 students that were involved, it was perhaps the first exposure they had to see the reality of emergency services," Addison said. "It's really an eye-opening experience for them."

The session, Addison said, also stressed ongoing and unmet trauma care needs in Indiana.

"Trauma/injury is a public health issue," she said. According to a map in the Trauma System/Injury Prevention Program on the Indiana State Department of Health website, the nearest trauma care facility to Terre Haute is in Indianapolis. The map shows which areas of the state are within a 45-minute access to a trauma center. It revealed that many areas in the state's southeast — mostly rural areas — may be in need of more immediate access to trauma care facilities.

"As you go out to do your normal day activities, you don't know if you're going to slip and fall or if you're going to turn an ankle. ... There's no way of knowing what your day is going to hold," Addison said.

"But each of us deserves as good a care as can be provided," in the right place and in a timely manner, she said, adding the need to raise public awareness about trauma care and trauma response. Everyone, she said, should be trained in first aid, for example. And such training needs to start at a young age, she said.

"World-class" educational institutions and active health care facilities place the Wabash Valley in a position to address the need locally and statewide, Addison said, so "we need to step up" and provide support to make that happen.

There are 119 acute care hospitals in Indiana and nine verified trauma hospitals, Addison said. Other hospitals are in the process of becoming trauma centers.

Instruction was given by ISU faculty. The Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, a partnership between education, health care, government and other organizations in issues concerning rural health, also provided support to the event, she said.

The drill, Addison added, gave the students not only hands-on learning but also an opportunity for networking. In addition to educators and students, local leaders and first responders also attended the event.

Indiana State Nursing Student Offers Deputies Potentially Life-saving Training

Published on Monday, 27 October 2014 14:28

By: Betsy Simon
Published by: The Indiana State Newsroom

Indiana State University doctoral student Donna Purviance hopes the training she provided sheriff's deputies week allows them to quickly, and without fear, administer an antidote to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose when time is of the essence.

Having worked several years in chronic pain management, Purviance, who is pursuing a doctor of nursing practice degree, was sometimes required to prescribe opiate pain pills per the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians and Regional Anesthesia guidelines.

"But the more I studied pain and perception of pain, I realized that oftentimes prescribing opiates, by the nature of the dependency and addictive properties of the medications, I was either contributing to addiction or creating addiction in the patients," she said. "It's scary to realize there might be opiates out there that I have prescribed that could get into the hands of people other than the intended patient, or patients may legitimately take their opiate and still overdose. Having the antidote readily available in those circumstances is a positive step in preventing death."

After speaking to a mother from Terre Haute who lost her son to a methadone overdose, Purviance said it solidified for her the need to train law enforcement officers to deliver a dose of nasal naloxone that works only in the case of opiate use. On Wednesday, she provided such training for deputies at the Vigo County Sheriff's Office.

"That mother spoke about the torment her son went through and all the difficulties they had in securing help to assist him," Purviance said. "I can't help but think that if the facility had had the antidote or police had the training and could have gotten to him quickly, that child might still be here today.
She provided training to share facts on overdose and how to administer the antidote with nearly 40 of the county's deputies. Once the proper policies are in place, likely within the next two weeks or so, the deputies can begin carrying the antidote when on patrol.

"Our No. 1 job is to protect lives and this is another tool we can use to do that," Sheriff Greg Ewing said. "If we can save even one life with this, we're all winners."

The training was made possible with help from the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative and Erik Southard, assistant professor of advanced practice nursing and director of the doctor of nursing program who serves as Purviance's faculty mentor.

"I set up a fundraising link with the Wabash Valley Community Foundation to help purchase tools for the training, including narcan syringes, mucosal atomizers and zipper bag containers for the officers. I also went rode on two- to eight-hour shifts with two sheriff's deputies to get acquainted with the department and spent six hours at the jail watching the process of booking individuals," Purviance said. "I have been fortunate to network with other law enforcement agencies in Indiana, including LaPorte, Columbus and Indianapolis as a part of the process."

The need for such training is growing statewide, as use of opioids among Hoosiers escalates.

"In Indiana alone, there were 111 deaths due to heroin in 2013. Combine that with the fact that 3 percent of all high school seniors have used heroin once and it's not hard to see the challenges we face," Southard said. "As opiate prescription medications become harder to obtain legally or otherwise, the use of heroin, which is a form of opiate, will likely rise. Unlike prescription opiates, heroin comes in many different potencies and the risk for overdose is very high."

More than 6 million people abuse prescription drugs, which contribute to the deaths of 50 Americans die each day from overdose, Southard said.
"In recent years heroin has crept into our state and now its use is climbing at staggering rates," he said. "In 2012, drug overdoses claimed 999 Hoosiers - a 57 percent increase in deaths over the past decade. As a result of these shocking statistics, Indiana has taken drastic and important steps to monitor the prescribing of opioids and there has been an 11 percent reduction in the number of opioid scripts written in Indiana."

Luckily, Purviance said, lawmakers foresaw the issue and adopted Senate Bill 246 as a means to control opiate prescribing.

"The bill was not intended to stop opiate prescribing but make the provider employ the tenets of the physician society's guidelines. Since the bill's inception, the state has seen a decrease in opiate prescribing, opening the doors for heroin, as a substitution," she said. "Our legislators recognized that, with a decrease in opiate prescribing, heroin use might increase and they made amendments to Senate Bill 227 - the Good Samaritan Bill - to allow law enforcement and first responders the option of giving intra-nasal narcan, the antidote for a heroin/opiate overdose, without civil liability."

Southard applauds the Vigo County Sheriff's Office for providing its deputies with more tools to aid them in protecting the public.

"Much like carrying an AED (defibrillator) for treating time sensitive cardiac arrhythmias, training officers to recognize opiate/heroin overdose and giving them naloxone they can administer through the patient's nose has the potential to save lives," he said. "While we hope they never have to fire a shot of nasal naloxone, the evidence supporting its use is coming in from all across the country."

Vigo County will be the second county in the state - behind Marion County - to have put in place this public safety practice that is credited with saving 37 people in thecounty during the last year.

"The forward thinking of Sheriff Ewing and many others may be just the thing that saves someone's son or daughter from falling victim to these horribly addictive substances," Southard said. "The overwhelming evidence supports peace officers being trained to administer naloxone and, as a DNP student at Indiana State, Donna Purviance translated the evidence into practice to make a difference in the Wabash Valley."

Ivy Tech to Host Statewide Nursing Conference

Published on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 19:17

Ivy Tech Community College-Wabash Valley, in conjunction with the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative (RHIC) Simulation Center, will host the statewide Ivy Tech School of Nursing conference on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, from 8 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. The conference is aimed at teaching various aspects of medical simulation to nursing faculty throughout the state of Indiana.

The conference will be held at Ivy Tech's campus in Terre Haute at 1650 East Industrial Drive, and will feature a variety of methodologies for implementing medical simulation into nursing curriculum. Approximately 180 Ivy Tech School of Nursing faculty and staff from across the state will be in attendance. Various vendors such as Pearson, Moore Medical, the Indiana State Nurse Association, and many more will be on site sharing their offerings with the group.

"We are very excited to partner with RHIC and offer this unique training opportunity to all of our Ivy Tech Nursing faculty," said Ivy Tech Chancellor, Jonathan Weinzapfel. "Being on the cutting-edge of both technology and training is part of what makes our Nursing faculty so exceptional."

The day will include training on scenarios for Critical Care, Obstetrical, Neonatal, and Mental health patients. Another big highlight of the event will be sessions on how to create mass casualty exercises. In partnership with District 7's Mass Casualty Unit, the RHIC Simulation Center will create a bus crash scene in which multiple victims will be on site and will require care from the participants in the conference.

"Spending time in a simulation, before actually performing on the job, is now the expectation in healthcare," said Jack Jaeger, Director of the RHIC Simulation Center. "Doctors, nurses, and EMS personnel all have an expectation to simulate prior to ever taking care of a patient. Ivy Tech's conference is all about teaching nursing faculty how to implement this important aspect of medical training into their curriculums."

In addition to the sessions, the RHIC Simulation Center will be bringing state-of-the art simulation equipment for the participants to visualize and handle, including their three dimensional anatomy table. The Simulation Center's clinical experts will be on hand to facilitate the education for the conference.

Ivy Tech Community College is the state's largest public post-secondary institution and the nation's largest single-accredited statewide community college system with more than 200,000 students enrolled annually. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

Regional Hospital Joins RHIC

Published on Monday, 13 October 2014 15:42

For the second time this year, the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative has welcomed a new partner to its efforts in education, research and economic development.

The collaborative's board of directors has approved Terre Haute Regional Hospital as a supporting member. The move brings to 14 the total number of partners for the organization launched in 2008 to help address the medical needs of underserved communities and serve as a catalyst for economic development centered on health care.

"We are pleased to welcome Terre Haute Regional Hospital to this effort," said board President Dan Bradley, also president of Indiana State University. "The addition of a second hospital to the collaborative will greatly expand opportunities for interprofessional education and collaboration in the health care arena and provide a significant boost to efforts to attract new investment in health care related businesses that will bring more jobs to the Wabash Valley."

"Terre Haute Regional Hospital is excited to join the collaborative and work with area health care partners on improving health care in the community through a variety of outreach efforts and community education," said Mary Ann Conroy, CEO.

The 278-bed hospital on Terre Haute's south side is a community-based medical center with comprehensive medical and surgical programs. It is accredited by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of healthcare organizations in America. Earlier this year, the hospital was recognized by the commission for the third year in a row as a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures for exemplary performance in using evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care for certain conditions.

Saint Mary-of-the Woods College and Harrison College joined the collaborative earlier this year as primary partners. Indiana State University, the Indiana University School of Medicine-Terre Haute, Ivy Tech Community College, the Terre Haute Economic Development Commission, the City of Terre Haute, Union Hospital and Hamilton Center were founding partners in the collaborative, launched in 2008. Indiana Area Health Education Centers, the Indiana Rural Health Association and Valley Professionals Community Health Center have since joined as supporting members.

RHIC's Infant Mortality Project

Google Glass Used in Simulation Center

Task Force Evolves into

Published on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 15:44

Originally published on

By: Dave Taylor, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
April 2, 2014

When the West Central Indiana Infant Mortality Task Force conducted its kickoff meeting, the first order of business was to announce a new name.

"Wabash Valley Healthy Moms and Babies" is how the panel will now be known as it works to help more babies reach their first birthday.

While the task force name may have been appropriate in securing a federal grant to address the region's high infant mortality rate, the new moniker more clearly communicates the group's mission to the public and is more sensitive to families who have lost babies, said Stephanie Laws, executive director of the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative.

"We feel this is a much more positive way to approach it," Laws said.

While number crunching is an important part of the work, the new name focuses on the people behind the statistics.

"Gov. Pence said it quite well when he said this is not about numbers, it's about heartache," William Van Ness II, commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, said. "Who doesn't want a baby to live to see their first birthday? We all do."

Indiana has the sixth highest infant mortality rate in the country with 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011, compared with a national rate of 6.05.

The state's rate has fallen below 7.0 only once in 113 years of data collecting, Van Ness said.

"We have a long term persistent problem with high infant mortality in Indiana and ... I'm frankly embarrassed. It takes a while to change that but we're not letting it hide under a rock anymore," he said.

"I'm glad you're here today," Van Ness told the more than 50 people attending the Healthy Moms and Babies kickoff. "We are firmly convinced that the solution is going to be community based. Like politics, most health care is local."

The Wabash Valley especially has work to do. The collective rate for Clay, Greene, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vigo and Vermillion counties stands at 8.9 percent, the second highest among the state's 11 hospital districts.

A high percentage of women in the area smoke while pregnant (33 percent in Owen County, the region's highest rate) and many expectant mothers do not receive prenatal care in the first trimester (46.5 percent in Parke County), according to data presented at the meeting. Statewide, only 16.6 percent of expectant mothers smoke and 31.9 percent fail to receive early pre-natal care.

Another statistic emerged during an audience question and answer session that suggests sleeping practices also contribute to the Wabash Valley's infant death rate. State Health Department data show 14.5 percent of area infant deaths are due to suffocation, compared to 3.5 percent statewide.

The State Department of Health is hiring a safe sleep coordinator Jeena Siela, deputy director of the state health department's maternal and child health division. That person will work with Cribs for Kids, a national initiative that provides portable cribs to families who cannot otherwise afford a safe place for their babies to sleep.

Infant mortality is complex problem that will require action on many fronts, said Jack Turman, dean of Indiana State's College of Nursing, Health and Human Services and a task force member."

"Those of us that have been studying this and working in this field ... have realized that our focus needs to stop shifting away from the personal health behaviors of women to the social, ecological and environmental constructs that surround those women," Turman said. "We still look at data about the personal health behaviors of women but now never with a judgmental perspective."

Instead, said Turman, health experts must examine the reasons behind behavior that puts babies at risk.

"Years ago when I was in training it was all focused on the woman and her personal health behavior ... and I felt even then in a rather judgmental fashion," he said. "You know what? That doesn't work. It doesn't work to tell someone to don't smoke during pregnancy, don't eat that hamburger and don't do drugs. What we do know works is the community-based health promotion approach."

To help Wabash Valley communities, the Healthy Moms and Babies initiative plans to:

• Sponsor five community forums to discuss priorities and solutions

• Establish a fetal and infant mortality review board to promote collection of data to be used to implement targeted prevention and intervention strategies

• Create a pregnancy peer support training program and an associated smartphone app for moms

Health care professionals, community leaders, non-profit representatives, educators and students attended the Health Moms and Babies kickoff.

Audience comments included a suggestion to reach out to expectant fathers and a question why even more people from the eight-county region were not in attendance.

"Many community members don't come because many people don't realize there's a problem. When something is normal, expected and happens, there's a lack of awareness that something is wrong and something needs to be done," said Turman, who has tackled the problem before in southern California and in Nebraska.

"Once a community begins to realize this and there is hope for them to take ownership and develop strategies, you'll see more people showing up and really getting engaged," he said.

High school students take first step toward nursing career at SMWC summer camp

By Betsy StrokeStyle/$ID/Japanese DotsWells SMWC Communications Manager

The smile on each young lady’s face was one of pride and accomplishment as each received her pin for completing the nursing camp at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Nine future nurses received their certificates during the pinning ceremony June 26 culminating their weeklong hands-on educational experience and glimpse into the field of nursing.

“I gained a lot of confidence in my choice of my future career in health care. I also gained a lot of knowledge about how many branches in nursing there are to choose from,” said Ashley McNeill, of Terre Haute. “I will definitely pursue a career in health care. My goals for the future are to go to SMWC and get a bachelorette degree to become a labor and delivery nurse.”

The nursing camp provided a unique look at the multifaceted world of nursing and allied health. It was designed to introduce high school students to professional nursing and allied health care provision for clients in the emergency department, intensive care unit, labor and delivery, pediatric care, adult medical/surgical care, rehabilitation and community based care. Campers participated in hands on activities, mock codes, simulation and on-site visits.

“Students were able to get a behind the scenes look at nursing and allied health and gain a new perspective,” states Christine Delnat, PhDc, RN, SMWC associate professor and nursing camp co-developer. “Our hope is that this will inform their decision-making as they embark on their educational path toward realizing their career goals.”

Throughout the week, camp participants learned about professionalism, interdisciplinary practice, networking and nutrition. The campers toured different types of healthcare settings, including the Rural Health Innovative Collaborative (RHIC) simulation center, where they practiced CPR on a simulator, assisted in the simulated birth of a baby, intubated a mannequin patient by airway insertion, practiced wound care and wrapping injuries, performed basic assessment skills and took vital signs.

“My favorite part of nursing camp was being able to experience hands on activities in the RHIC simulation center at Union Hospital,” states Ashley Rogers, of Terre Haute. “I plan on pursuing a health care career that I enjoy and that allows me to help people.”

An ambulance demonstration took place on SMWC campus, in which the students learned how to stabilize and log roll a patient onto a backboard, then load the patient into an ambulance. The week was packed full of wide and varied experience culminating in the pinning ceremony.

The pinning ceremony is a tradition, dating back to the 12th century, that represents the transition from student to professional and serves as a symbolic welcome into the profession of nursing. So it was fitting that the students were able to participate in this meaningful ceremony after their first week as “nurses.”

“The pinning ceremony is much more than an event to mark the completion of nursing camp,” said Terri Moore, RN, SMWC adjunct faculty and co-developer, director and co-facilitator of the SMWC nursing camp. “It is a symbolic rite of passage in your preparation toward your future career and a reminder to each one of you of nursing’s historic promise to serve all, especially the underserved.”

SMWC recently launched a Bachelor of Science in nursing campus program. Additionally, the College offers an online RN to BSN program. Applications are still being accepted for both programs to start in fall of 2015. For more information about the SMWC Department of Nursing, visit