600 to 8,000 Square Feet—WOW!

600 to 8,000 Square Feet—WOW!

Written by
Lynne Hausman, MSN, RN, CNE, Director at Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing and
Cynthia A. Cappel, DNP, MBA, RN-BC, NE-BC, Education Department Vice President at Lehigh Valley Health Networ

Published August 2022

The Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing became part of Lehigh Valley Health Network in 2016, and the need for a new simulation center was on the list of numerous improvements planned for the school. However, it was not until the COVID-19 pandemic limited clinical rotations that its place on the list of improvements needed to be escalated. Through the eagle-eye of the financial aid administrator, the possible funding through the CARES Act was identified, and budgets, architectural drawings, and construction plans began.

The School of Nursing had a 600-square foot nursing arts laboratory complete with six beds for student practice. Students crowded into this space, usually 15 at a time. When the pandemic hit, we needed the space to allow for hands-on experiences when clinical rotations were halted and restricted. However, the space did not provide proper social distancing for a large group. Alternate classrooms were used but did not provide the correct simulated clinical environment.

The CARES Act money was awarded in the form of Institutional and Funds for the Improvement of PostSecondary Education (FIPSE) for $417,751. We began to explore locations within the school but discovered a vacant nursing unit in a shuttered portion of the hospital that was perfect for the project. What started with 2‒3 patient rooms expanded to half of a nursing unit (11 beds), complete with a nurses’ station, a medication room, an isolation room with ante room, and a locker room. The patient and family waiting room made an excellent debriefing conference room. A capital project intended for the classrooms was used to fund the technology in the debriefing room. Renovations began to refresh the area while possibilities shifted to equipping the space with equipment and technology that would reflect that used on actual nursing units.

Five high-fidelity simulators and task trainers were purchased, and existing computers on wheels were equipped with the hospital EHMR. Cardiac monitors, crash carts, blood pressure equipment, and simulation medications filled the space. Tours of vacated spaces as well as contact with product nurses and the technology department assisted us in recycling the gently-used items that filled closets or vacated spaces. There was excitement and genuine interest in repurposing the facility and equipment to meet the needs of the next generation of nurses.

Once the area began to take shape, additional adjacent space became faculty offices, moving seven full-time faculty from crammed offices where they couldn’t safely meet with students to large offices that were converted into patient rooms and a faculty conference room. Additional security measures were put into place, so faculty and students could enjoy a secured space any hour of the day or night.

Following the ribbon cutting, complete with social-distancing, masks, and a participation list of four, the Joseph F. McCloskey Simulation Center opened on January 19, 2021. This event was recorded for faculty and students to watch remotely.

In the days and weeks that followed, faculty looked for opportunities to enhance the curriculum and their teaching techniques, utilizing the new space. Inservices were held on the new simulators, and the network simulation team assisted in the transition. In total, ≈$215,000 was used to bring a dated, ill-equipped, and cramped skills lab to the future; it became a usable, spacious, and well-equipped simulation center.

Author Information

Lynne Hausman, MSN, RN, CNE
Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing

Cynthia A. Cappel, DNP, MBA, RN-BC, NE-BC
Education Department Vice President
Lehigh Valley Health Network