Palmetto Health, USC School of Medicine acquire state’s first mobile simulation lab

Students, nurses and other medical personnel will be able to train where they live thanks to the SimCOACH, a mobile simulation center. (photo provided)

Students, nurses and other medical personnel will be able to train where they work thanks to the SimCOACH, a mobile simulation center. (photo by Rachel Ham)

Palmetto Health and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine joined forces to open a Simulation Center in 2008. Nearly six years to the date after the training headquarters for regional medical personnel was opened, Palmetto Health and USC School of Medicine unveiled their latest venture — one with wheels this time.

Doctors, students and members of the community were invited Tuesday to tour the Simulation Center’s brand-new SimCOACH. The mobile simulation laboratory is the first of its kind in the state to be used for hands-on training.

Hospital officials think the addition of the SimCOACH will result in fewer errors made in patient care, lower costs and lives saved as medical and emergency personnel become proficient in their skills before interacting with patients.

“Simulation medicine helps ensure Palmetto Health’s physicians and caregivers, as well as those throughout the Midlands region, are well prepared to provide the highest quality, safest care, and ultimately, the best patient experience,” said Palmetto Health CEO Charles Beaman.

The SimCOACH was made possible through a significant contribution made by an anonymous donor. CAE Healthcare and Bank of America also made donations.

Dr. Eric Brown, medical director of the Simulation Center, said Monday’s unveiling of the SimCOACH was the culmination of three years of work to bring this unique opportunity to Columbia. He recalled visualizing such an endeavor after driving by an 18-wheeler one day and thanked those who helped bring his vision to life.

“It’s all about collaboration … and community health,” he said.

The SimCOACH is a project of Palmetto Health and USC School of Medicine and will available for on-location training. (photo by Rachel Ham)

The SimCOACH is a project of Palmetto Health and USC School of Medicine and will be available for on-location training. (photo by Rachel Ham)

The mobile unit will provide students, nurses, physicians, military medical personnel and community members with another option when they need to receive additional training. Instead of having to travel to the Simulation Center in Columbia or another location, the SimCOACH can come to them.

Once inside, two classrooms allow people the chance to learn about new techniques by performing them. Instructors can demonstrate a variety of concepts such as an emergency scenario where a patient needs a central line placed or the response in the aftermath of a disaster.

Dr. Caughman Taylor, interim dean of the USC School of Medicine and a professor of clinical pediatrics, pointed out that the mobile center gives medical personnel the chance to practice complicated procedures in a realistic environment without posing any threat to their patients.

“I fully believe simulation medicine serves a critical role,” he said. “It’s an essential component of this generation’s medical training.”

“Participants will learn a lot about team dynamics, which is another important aspect,” Brown said.

The mobile center cost more than $1 million to purchase and outfit with the necessary tools and also will keep people up to date on the latest medical advancements and technology.

Palmetto Health employees and USC School of Medicine students will be the primary people using the SimCOACH. Brown said it will be taken to EMS stations, National Guard armories, clinics, neighboring hospitals and other facilities to serve nurses, paramedics and those who desire additional training.

When the Simulation Center is at full capacity, the SimCOACH will serve as an overflow classroom. Officials said this will reduce the number of people who have to be rescheduled for their session.

The Palmetto Health-USC School of Medicine Simulation Center has served thousands of people since the first class was held in 2008. It is one of 30 to receive accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare and provides comprehensive resources for health care providers and learners of all levels.

Contact the Palmetto Health Foundation at to learn more about supporting the SimCOACH.

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