Robot patients are helping train nurses
Plus: Black Political Caucus makes endorsements in this month's city elections; Magistrate says CMS, CMPD didn't produce documents; Judge takes new job; Clear backpacks up for auction
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Lifelike simulators at UNC Charlotte’s School of Nursing give students hands-on practice; ‘they experience bringing that patient back to life’
UNC Charlotte nursing students can monitor vital signs on a “high-fidelity patient simulator.” (Photo courtesy of UNC Charlotte)
By Michael J. Solender
Early in nursing educator Melinda Pierce’s teaching career, her students practiced administering injections into the flesh of an orange instead of a patient.
Today, Pierce’s teaching tools don’t involve citrus. Leading the way are high fidelity patient simulators, life-sized robotic patients that present her students with symptoms. They have a pulse and can breathe, bleed and urinate. They can even simulate giving birth.
Pierce oversees the School of Nursing’s Simulation Lab at UNC Charlotte and works with a team to develop simulation scenarios and situations nurses are likely to face in real-life hospitals and other healthcare settings. The high-tech lab and state-of-the-art tools are part of an ongoing emphasis at UNC Charlotte to explore new ways to incorporate safe, high-impact experiential learning into nursing education and beyond.
“Historically, nursing students have been taught by experienced nurses relaying knowledge through lecture and presentation,” Pierce said. “High fidelity patient simulators are computer-controlled. They generate heart, lung and abdominal sounds, can be given medications and IV fluids and react physiologically like a live human being to whatever interventions nursing students give them. Here, students experience taking care of the full body patient simulators just like they would take care of live patients in the hospital.”
With more than 500 students (330 undergraduate, 220 graduate students), the School of Nursing together with Public Health Sciences, Social Work, and Applied Physiology Health & Clinical Sciences comprise the university’s College of Health and Human Services (CHHS). In fall 2021, CHHS had the third-largest number of majors on campus and is home to more than 170 faculty.
High impact education practices
“We are very invested in high impact education practices and work to make sure students have experiential learning,” said professor and dean of CHHS, Catrine Tudor-Locke. The college has more than 800 agreements with community partners, which offer students internships and hands-on learning.
State-of-the-art training tools are part of that strategy, Tudor-Locke says. Last summer, the university purchased an Anatomage Table, one of the most technologically advanced 3-D virtual dissection and anatomy visualization tools on the market. The body-sized table looks and functions like a high-tech tablet and presents three-dimensional, life-sized images of cadaver samples. UNC Charlotte is one of only five schools in the state that have one.
An Anatomage Table, in use at UNC Charlotte. (Photo courtesy of UNC Charlotte)
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said UNC Charlotte simulation technician Ashton Atmore. “Students can dissect the body along any plane. The versatility of the interactive features encourages intuitive learning and allows for a precise understanding of the body’s complex, interconnected relationships.”
There are fewer than 100 of these tables in the U.S. and only 300 in the world, according to the university.
Dena Evans, the School of Nursing’s director, says the demand for skilled nursing in our region and nationally exceeds the supply, and the university works closely with clinical partners such as Atrium Health, Novant Health, Caromont Health, Care Ring, Sanger Clinic, Mission Health, the health departments of local counties and others to ensure the highest level of readiness for nurses at all levels.
Pipeline of international nurses
It’s not only the School of Nursing students that benefit from resources found at the Simulation Lab. The tools and programming are accessible to community partners and other programs at Charlotte’s College of Health and Human Services as well.
Evans said that last summer, UNC Charlotte teamed up with an international nurse recruitment agency, Conexus MedStaff, to provide access to the lab. That helps the region address a nursing shortage and ensure that nurses from other countries are familiar with practices at U.S. hospitals.
Not just nurses: Students in public health, veterinary science, chemistry and biology use the Anatomage Table in their curriculum, allowing the university to maximize the impact of this high-tech training tool. “Biology students benefit from the anatomy and physiology features,” Atmore said. “Regional scans show the lungs, which is useful for the respiratory therapy students. Microscopic images of tissues support students from the Department of Applied Physiology, Health, and Physical Sciences. Even if you’re not studying health sciences and you want to look at what cancer looks like in the stomach, this can provide tremendous educational value.”
Pierce shared the example of an emergency involving a heart attack. In the simulated experience, the student can work directly in a hands-on capacity, not simply observe.
“In taking care of a high fidelity patient simulator that is in cardiac arrest,” says Pierce, “the student performs CPR. If done correctly, the simulator responds to the interventions of chest compressions and manual ventilations. If they give the drugs correctly and in the right dosage, the patient simulator will respond. They can defibrillate, use electricity on the chest of the patient just like they would a human being. And if they do everything correctly, and if the scenario is designed for the patient to be resuscitated, they experience bringing that patient back to life and back to return of spontaneous circulation.”
Student reaction to the simulated experiences is validating for Pierce and her team.
She said: “Many students come back [from board certification testing] and tell me they had several questions on the patient that they had in simulation, and it was so easy to answer these questions because they’d taken care of that patient in the simulation lab.”
Michael J. Solender is a Charlotte-based features writer. Reach him at email@example.com or through his website, michaeljwrites.com.
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Black Political Caucus endorses Democrats it bypassed in primary; hard-to-forecast low-turnout city election on July 26
The Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg has released its endorsements for this month’s City Council election. It’s backing all the Democrats on the oh-so-short ballot.
That might be about as surprising as the sun rising in the east this morning, but the Black Political Caucus is a major force in city elections. That’s especially true in Democratic primaries, like the one in May, in which BPC-backed candidates won 8 out of 10 of the races.
Now, the BPC is lining up behind the two Democrats it didn’t endorse in May but who won anyway: incumbent council member Dimple Ajmera in the at-large race and District 6 challenger Stephanie Hand, who is running against incumbent Republican Tariq Bokhari. The other main endorsement that political types covet is from The Charlotte Observer’s editorial page, which has not yet made recommendations in city elections. (It, too, tends to lean heavily toward Democrats in competitive races.)
South Charlotte battle: There are other races on the ballot, but political insiders say the south Charlotte Bokhari-Hand race could be the most competitive. On paper, Bokhari looks to have the edge, as he is an incumbent and the district leans ever-so-slightly Republican. But in an unprecedented July general election expected to have astonishingly low voter turnout, it’s hard to predict.
The same is true of the at-large race, in which Bokhari is backing a slate of four newcomer Republican candidates to take on the four Democrats — each of whom has served on the Council. No Republican has won a citywide race since 2009.
➡️ Early voting started last week and runs through July 23. The election is July 26.
Federal magistrate says CMS, CMPD failed to produce records as required in sexual assault lawsuit
A federal magistrate judge is recommending that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Charlotte’s police department be sanctioned for failing to hand over documents in connection with a lawsuit by a former Myers Park High student who said she was sexually assaulted.
Magistrate Judge David Cayer wrote in a memo late last month that the “egregious non-compliance” with previous court orders to produce documents to the plaintiff should be penalized. He recommended that Judge Robert Conrad deny efforts by CMS and CMPD to have the case dismissed and said they should pay attorneys’ fees in connection with efforts to produce the documents.
Lawyers for the former student have been trying to obtain evidence related to other sexual assault reports at CMS. Cayer wrote that the city failed to “offer a sufficient explanation as to why those documents were not produced much earlier” and that CMS missed deadlines to supply the information.
Publicity from the case, which stems from a reported off-campus sexual assault in 2015, brought to light a series of other accusations of students sexually assaulting other students at Myers Park High and other CMS schools. Lawyers for CMS and CMPD have sought to have the case dismissed, saying school officials and police acted reasonably, and Conrad is considering that request.
Related Ledger articles:
“What happened in the woods?” (Sept. 1, 2021)
Hear ye, hear ye: Mecklenburg judge takes new job at law firm
When Mecklenburg County Superior Court Judge Casey Viser resigned earlier this month, there was no public explanation of why or where he was going. Viser had been elected to an eight-year term in 2020.
Turns out, he’s now a partner with the law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick. He’s heading the firm’s white-collar criminal practice, where he’ll also handle internal investigations for clients and help with general commercial litigation, says Steven Meckler, managing partner for Shumaker’s Charlotte office. The firm has about 40 lawyers in Charlotte, part of a network of 280 or so spread throughout the Southeast and Midwest.
Viser told The Ledger: “It was just an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.” He says he also missed the advocacy work for clients. Before serving for more than 7 years as a judge, he was a partner at James, McElroy & Diehl.
He started at Shumaker last week. —TM
In case you missed it: The Charlotte Ledger’s ‘Built to Last’ series
Last week, we shared a special series with Ledger paying members highlighting small businesses in Charlotte that we called “Built to Last” — interviews with longtime business owners on how they built their companies, how they adjusted to challenges and the leadership lessons they learned along the way.
In case you want to catch up, here’s the recap:
Office tower above South End historic site? Asana Partners is proposing to build an office tower of around 7 stories above the Nebel Knitting Mill Annex on West Worthington Avenue in South End, across the street from the 23-story Lowe’s Design Center Tower. The plans sparked a recent debate at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. Asana filed for a demolition permit last month but hopes to preserve the building’s art moderne-style facade. Check out some of the renderings here. (Observer, subscriber-only)
Clear backpacks for sale: Nearly 46,000 clear backpacks that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bought but decided not to use went up for auction online on Friday. CMS paid $442,000 for them from Office Depot but is seeking a starting bid of $50,000. Bidding ends July 18. (WFAE)
Body scanners for middle schools: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools plans to install body scanning equipment in the district’s 48 middle schools, adding to the scanners in place in 21 high schools. CMS will start installing the scanners in August. (Observer)
Charlotte Country Day receives big land donation: Local real estate figures Smoky and Margaret Bissell gave roughly 330 acres in Union County to Charlotte Country Day School, which is the second-largest private school in the region. The Bissells also promised to pay the cost of owning and operating the property for five years. The land is south of Weddington, on the west side of Providence Road south of Sherringham Way. (Business Journal)
Close vote on donating bulletproof vests for Ukraine: Four Mecklenburg County commissioners voted to block a donation of 30 unneeded bulletproof vests from the sheriff’s department for use by Ukraine because the nonprofit coordinating the shipments was Samaritan’s Purse. Commissioner Laura Meier said: “This bothers me. … They do discriminate based on gay marriage and homosexuality.” She and others said they wanted time to see if the vests could be routed through another organization, and she and commissioners Mark Jerrell, Susan Rodriguez-McDowell and Leigh Altman voted for a delay. But a board majority voted to allow the donation. Commissioner Pat Cotham said: “People are dying every day in Ukraine. Maybe if we get those vests there, some man or woman isn’t going to die.”
Home-buying from your couch: Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law a measure that authorizes online notarizations, which had been allowed temporarily during Covid. “This significant legislation means homebuyers will soon be able to close loans and buy houses from the comfort of their couch,” Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said in a news release. (Winston-Salem Journal)
Bar membership requirement eliminated: Bar owners are supportive of a new N.C. law that removes the membership requirement at establishments that don’t serve food. Previously, patrons had to pay to join and divulge contact information at bars where alcohol sales made up more than 70% of revenue. (Axios Charlotte)
Enrollment soars at private schools: The N.C. Division of Non-Public Education reported that private-school enrollment rose by 7.4% in the 2021-2022 school year to 115,311 students, which is the highest its been since 1971. Meanwhile, the number of homeschooled students dropped by 19,000 from the previous year. (Greensboro News & Record/News & Observer)
Calls spike at local abortion clinics: Call wait times at Planned Parenthood and A Woman’s Choice clinic in Charlotte have nearly doubled since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. A Woman’s Choice said some calls are coming from states outside of North Carolina, and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic said appointment requests have increased by 20%. (WFAE)
Raleigh gets social: Beginning Aug. 15, people can be seen walking around in Raleigh on Fayetteville Street with alcohol in-hand. The city council announced its first social district on Tuesday that will exist as a pilot. Charlotte is also considering an ordinance. (Axios Raleigh)
On the city agenda: At tonight’s City Council meeting, council members are expected to discuss the city’s plan for arts funding, hold a public hearing on the Unified Development Ordinance and vote on a plan that would require landlords to accept housing vouchers if their apartment complex receives city financial support.
Unless you are a day trader, checking your stocks daily is unhealthy. So how about weekly? How local stocks of note fared last week (through Friday’s close), and year to date:
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Executive editor: Tony Mecia; Managing editor: Cristina Bolling; Staff writer: Lindsey Banks; Contributing editor: Tim Whitmire, CXN Advisory; Contributing photographer/videographer: Kevin Young, The 5 and 2 Project