The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Discipline of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care joined the global community in celebrating Healthcare Simulation Week 2023 from 18 to 23 September at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH) where healthcare professionals who teach using hi-fidelity simulation equipment showcased the latest advancements in medical training at the Simulated Modules in Anaesthesia and Resuscitation Training (SMART) Centre housed at IALCH.
The Centre is hailed as a first-of-its-kind in Africa and has greatly transformed medical personnel training in KZN. The SMART Centre boasts an impressive variety of simulators and equipment which includes the latest simulator in both ultrasound teaching (CAE Viamedix®) as well as patient simulation (CAE HPS®) valued at R4.5 million. ‘The human patient simulators used for training at all levels of medical education are designed to eliminate any possibility of mistakes by professionals and improve on the overall safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of healthcare delivery,’ said head of Discipline and chief specialist, Professor Dean Gopalan.
The Discipline is celebrating 20 years of simulation at IALCH and its SMART Centre was officially launched in 2010. The celebrations tied in well with this year’s theme for Healthcare Simulation Week: Be a Champion of Your Success Story!
Visitors were impressed by the SMART Centre’s various simulators, including five CAE high-fidelity human patient simulators and a host of Laerdal equipment providing training on a range of medical areas.
The Discipline provides an anaesthetic service for the greater Durban area and provides consultative services to the entire province. It provides undergraduate teaching at UKZN’s Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine as well as a Master of Medicine course for training specialist anaesthetists, accredited by the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
The proceedings of Healthcare Simulation Week commenced with the block placement of fourth-year undergraduate Medical students – a significant part of their training – motivating the students to consider specialising in anaesthesiology after they qualify to become Medical doctors. They were greeted with a warm smile by Smart Centre manager and principal technician in the Discipline, Mr Naren Bhimsan, who, together with the team of specialists present during the week, made it a memorable, didactic and interactive experience for all.
The week culminated with a set-up at the third-floor foyer areas of the hospital on Friday, where the Discipline showcased its baby simulator, the latest ultrasound simulator as well as an LCD TV screening a series of PowerPoint slides highlighting its experience over the past two decades.
Many visitors to the stand were excited to witness the various developments and skill enhancements being performed at the very hospital they frequent daily.
IALCH based pharmacists, Ms Yekashni Maharajh, Ms Michelle Sims as well as intern, Mr Simphiwe Magwenyana, were the first visitors at the stand and were impressed with the advanced pharmacology programmed into the simulators and the fact that they respond to real drugs administered.
Head of Vascular Surgery at IALCH, Professor Bala Pillay, was equally impressed with the advanced training offered by the CAE Viamedix® and promised to attend a workshop soon. Dr Shivani Singh, a paediatric intensivist and critical care specialist of the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, also visited the stand and shared the 20-year history of the SMART Centre having herself been involved in a few programmes.
Founder and manager of the SMART Centre, Bhimsan enthusiastically expressed his joy at celebrating this milestone event of having been at the forefront of initiating, building, as well as representing this centre globally over its 20-year history. Of special mention was the fact that he had delivered over 20 presentations both nationally and internationally including Kenya, Egypt, Zambia, Tanzania, Paris, Bangalore (India) as well as Tampa, San Francisco, Memphis, Miami and Dallas in the USA. The presentations won first prize in San Francisco as well as Bangalore.
A second simulation centre was established at Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg in 2013 and boasts highly specialised training equipment. Bhimsan expressed his gratitude to UKZN for funding not only these two centres but other surrounding metropolitan hospitals as well with many millions of rands of equipment. Not many centres around the world can lay claim to having this type of equipment since 2003.
With regards to the future of simulation, Bhimsan was quick to add that simulation made its first impact in specialities such as emergency medicine and anaesthetics however, it is now being used as an educational modality in a diverse range of specialities. ‘Simulation will likely become much more closely linked to assessment in the future; be it by a person or by a machine.
‘Simulation is set to change radically in the future. There will be a rapid increase in mobile simulations, online simulations as well as access to virtual reality simulations made available to students as an open access so learners can use them as and when they wish to. We are in the process of modifying our flat simulators to mid-fidelity simulators so that their use is no longer dependent on highly skilled training staff. These modified simulators were used in training in Namibia and Madagascar in the last month by our skilled consultant Dr Christian Kampik,’ said Bhimsan.
Words and photograph: Lunga Memela