Major gift funds preemie and cardiac simulators

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Roger Davis (far left), Mary Hesselrode (left), Jim Allen, Linda Allen (right) and Tamara Baird (far right) check out the Health Simulation Lab's newest (and youngest at 25 weeks) patient simulators.


Linda Allen's gift to the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences expands education opportunities for health science students

Lipscomb University’s Health Simulation Laboratory now has three new computerized mannequin patient simulators for premature babies and a second cardio-pulmonary patient simulator due to one of the largest individual donations ever gifted to the health sciences programs.

Linda Allen, wife of Lipscomb board member Jim Allen, was on campus in October 2016 when she decided to make an impromptu visit to the Health Simulation Lab in the Nursing and Health Sciences Center.

Lab Director Tamara Baird showed her the 19 patient simulators available at that time and relayed a story about her professional experience working in the neonatal intensive care unit. Talk turned to a new preemie baby simulator which was released by manufacturer Laerdal a couple of years ago. Linda was so inspired by the training lab and Baird’s enthusiasm that she began discussions with Roger Davis, dean of the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, about funding the new preemies for the lab.

When looking over the preemie simulators after their arrival in February, Linda noted that her own grandmother was a preemie, weighing 1.2 pounds at birth. Lipscomb’s preemie triplets, one named “Linda” after Allen, represent 25-week old babies who weigh less than 2 pounds each.

“It is very important to me that we have the best of the best equipment at Lipscomb for the students,” said Linda Allen, who developed very close relationships with Lipscomb students when Jim worked as vice president for business affairs during the Harold Hazelip administration. “We are still in contact with students, and they are all so passionate. Lipscomb produces the best of the best in graduates.”

“There is a deep compassion for others here at Lipscomb, and students leave with that ingrained in them,” added Jim, a member of the Lipscomb board of trustees since 1998.

Linda Allen’s $100,000 gift also allowed the school to purchase a second, more updated version of Harvey, a cardio-pulmonary mannequin that simulates 50 additional cardiac scenarios such as mild systolic heart failure, coronary disease and a pulmonary embolism. The new version of Harvey is sophisticated enough to be used to train heart surgeons, Baird said.

The patient mannequins in the simulation lab allow health science students to practice their clinical skills over and over in the most realistic setting available before they begin their clinical work with live patients. Such practice builds confidence in new health professionals and is an aspect of the program most valued by student nurses.

“Research shows that regular simulation training reduces intimidation and increases confidence among health science students,” said Mary Hesselrode, interim associate dean of the School of Nursing. “It gives students the opportunity to make a mistake in a controlled environment. It’s a comfort as an instructor to send them out to real patients, when you have already seen them perform the skills well in the laboratory.”

Now Lipscomb’s health science students will have the opportunity to practice their skills such as resuscitation, nasal intubation and chest compressions on premature babies before they graduate. Such procedures are carried out very differently on preemies then they are in adults or even full-weight babies, which were already available in the lab.

The preemie simulators allow students to draw umbilical cord blood; to do CPR; to treat respiratory problems, pneumonia or heart murmurs; and to even simulate a preemie birth, with a computerized link to the “mom” simulator, among other procedures.

The college is now in the process of creating a neonatal intensive care unit within the lab, valuable because it will give health science students a head start on the special training many states require for health care professionals to work in the NICU. Lipscomb’s health science programs can now provide simulations of various health concerns covering the entire lifespan, from 25 weeks old to the elderly.

Allen’s donation allowed the college to buy the most current simulators available and serves as the first major step toward fully equipping the lab for the physician assistant studies program, now enrolling, said Davis.

“Since its establishment in 2012, Lipscomb’s Health Simulation Lab has remained the most up-to-date in the region,” Davis said. “Even so, these additions have initiated an entire reassessment of our lab to make sure our students are getting the depth we should provide for students. We have all the pieces, but we must always ask ourselves, ‘do we have the depth?’”

With these additions, the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences now has the capacity to host credentialing trainings and continued education courses in the lab for a variety of health care professionals.

Linda (’70) and Jim (’68) are long-time supporters of Lipscomb. Allen Arena, opened in 2001, and was named for the Allens, who made the largest gift in Lipscomb history at that time to pay for the building’s construction. 

The Allens have a daughter, Stacy Thompson (DLHS ’90).  Their son, Michael, was killed in an automobile accident, and the Allen Bell Tower, built in 1999, is named in his memory.