Pellissippi State partners with Blount Memorial to train nurses for Covid-19 care

Blount Memorial nurses run a simulation in the Nursing lab on Pellissippi State's Blount County Campus
Blount Memorial Hospital nurses run a Covid-19 simulation in the Nursing lab on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus on June 3. Each group of medical-surgical nurses is led by an ICU-surgical nurse. BMH Critical Care Educator Briana Dahl, at head of SimMan, is the team lead for this group of nurses.

Pellissippi State Community College is helping Blount Memorial Hospital nurses train to care for Covid-19 patients. 

The partnership allows the Maryville hospital’s nurses to train in the Nursing simulation lab on the college’s Blount County Campus. The first training was held Wednesday, May 27. 

“We have gotten together with Briana Dahl, the critical care educator for Blount Memorial, to create simulation scenarios based on actual cases to better prepare these nurses for what can come up in the hospital,” said Assistant Professor Ronda McCown, who is the lab coordinator for Pellissippi State Nursing. “A simulation lab is a safe place to learn because no one can get hurt.” 

For Blount Memorial’s critical care nurses, the simulations will be a review. But for the hospital’s medical-surgical nurses, the single largest nursing specialty in the United States, the simulations will allow them to practice skills they may not had to use since they were in Nursing school. 

“Learning is often experiential,” said Michelle McPhersondirector of education for Blount Memorial. “This training enables us to run scenarios that maybe they’ve only come across once or twice in their career.” 

As Pellissippi State continues to follow guidelines for social distancing, only seven people are allowed in the lab at one time: one ICU-surgical nurse and four medical-surgical nurses, as well as Katrenia Hill, nursing skills and simulation laboratories coordinator for Pellissippi State, and Pellissippi State Nursing Instructor Anna Wells. 

“We purposely mixed the floor staff who aren’t used to dealing with ventilators and Covid-19 with our critical care unit nurses, who can serve as team leads,” McPherson explained, adding there is ample time between the 2.5-hour training sessions for a “very strict cleaning regimen. 

BMH Critical Care Educator Briana Dahl is flanked by Pellissippi State Nursing staff in the Blount County Campus' Nursing lab
Katrenia Hill, nursing skills and simulation laboratories coordinator for Pellissippi State, left, and Pellissippi State Nursing Instructor Anna Wells, right, join Blount Memorial Hospital Critical Care Educator Briana Dahl in Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus Nursing lab to train BMH nurses on Covid-19 care.

By the time the training ends, 61 Blount Memorial medical-surgical nurses will have more experience in intubation careputting patients on a ventilator, adjusting ventilator settings, suctioning and proning” patients, which means lying them flat on their chests. 

The trainings will culminate in a mock code that allows nurses to practice what to do when a patient is declining, McCown noted. 

These Covid-19 trainings, which are expected to wrap up June 17, are just the beginning of what Pellissippi State and Blount Memorial nursing staffs envision being a year-round partnership. 

“We are trying to start up a nurse residency program that would meet once a month for one year,” McPherson said. “These four-hour sessions would allow us time to address things new nurses may need help with, such as mock codes and leadership training. 

This conversation with Pellissippi State actually started last fall, noted Joseph Newsomeassistant chief nursing officer for Blount Memorial – before Covid-19 pushed that training to the forefront. 

“When Mr. Newsome and I met last fall and he toured our Blount County Campus, we started discussing all of the possibilities for a training partnership between the college and the hospital,” said Dean of Nursing Angela Lunsford. “Blount Memorial provides several clinical training areas for our Nursing program, and it is our hope that using the simulation lab at Pellissippi State will strengthen training for nursing students, new graduate nurses and experienced ones.” 

Blount Memorial Hospital nurses train on Covid-19 care at Pellissippi State
Blount Memorial Hospital nurses Kenlie Langford, left, and Kody Smitherman, right, train on Covid-19 care on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus on June 3. The nurses do not have to maintain social distancing because of the personal protective equipment they are wearing.

Newsome agreed. 

We are excited to send our intern nurses and our new graduate nurses to Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus to use the simulation lab to enhance their training,” he said. “I think the Covid-19 trainings and the new nurse residency program show the best of what we can do when we work together.” 

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

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