By Liz Collin

ROSEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota nurses in training are getting a new lesson in how to better care for some of the most difficult patients to communicate with — kids.

WCCO met a boy named HAL, a pediatric patient simulator.

His small voice, blinking eyes and complaints of pain sound like a very sick 5-year-old boy.

At Pediatric Home Service in Roseville, that’s the point. The healthcare service in the north metro allows kids with medical complexities to stay at home with their families.

Heater Grace is an RN nurse trainer at PHS.

“It’s kind of exciting to hear the lung sounds, the bowel sounds, all the pulses,” Grace said, talking about HAL.

Billed as the most advanced pediatric patient simulator, the HAL at Pediatric Home Service is one of just 20 in the world and the first in the Upper Midwest.

In this case, Bruce Estrem, the facility’s clinical education manager, plays the role of Wizard of Oz.

“What I can do is program the mannequin to anything we want him to do,” Estrem said.

He creates chaotic situations as HAL’s controller.

“We can’t command a child to have a seizure at home,” he said. “We can’t command a child to have an obstructed trach in a home. Now, we can do that in a lab. It’s just amazing what technology has done for us.”

Estrem is usually in a separate room, monitoring a nurse’s movements by camera. Fifteen minutes of bedside care leads to 45 more in a classroom review.

PHS plans to offer HAL to other nurses in training across the Twin Cities, as this kind of care is hard to come by.

Rebecca Trebil is an RN nurse training coordinator at Pediatric Home Service.

“We’re opening up the lab for nursing programs to send their students through our simulation to get exposure to the medically complex pediatrics and to also get that pediatric clinic experience as well,” she said.

Pediatric Home Service spent about $130,000 for HAL and a similar baby simulator.

Liz Collin

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