A willing new patient

Published 9:36 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bennie could be the model hospital patient. He never complains, doesn’t flirt with the nurses, stays quiet through the night and responds to medications and treatments in predictable, logical ways. And he’s not shy, so nurses attending to him can go about their business without having to worry about embarrassing him when they see his hospital robe accidentally gape open in the back.

For those readers who have worked in the health care field and are now thinking that Bennie is just a little too good to be true — they’re partially right. Bennie is absolutely real; he’s just not quite human. Bennie is a high-tech patient simulator now in use in Paul D. Camp Community College’s nursing program. Officially, he’s known as Sim Man 3G, which presumably refers to a third-generation product by Laerdal Medical that is used by nursing programs around the world to give students hands-on experience with medical treatments without risking the safety of real people. At PDCCC, however, he’s known as BENNIE, which stands for Bringing Every Nurse New and Innovative Education.

And even though Bennie is not a real human being, he makes a great medical training tool, because he reacts in ways so similar to humans. Bennie can talk, cry, sweat and breathe thanks to advanced mechanical and computerized systems at work within his artificial skin. And students can hear lung, abdominal and heart sounds, and they can take pulses from all over his body.

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Clearly, Bennie represents an advanced level of medical training beyond the basic CPR dummy with which most folks are familiar. And that’s good news for current and future medical patients around Western Tidewater, who will benefit from the advanced training and experience nurses in the PDCCC program will get thanks to having Bennie on hand.

It’s a big and important step for a program that has been instrumental in equipping generations of nurses in the area and will continue to be a vital part of Western Tidewater’s network of health providers.