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LHU News

Penn Highlands Hospital and LHU Clearfield set to open Simulation Lab on Feb. 26

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at the new Simulation Center on the fourth floor of Penn Highlands Clearfield on Monday, Feb. 26.

The ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. to mark the official beginning of the partnership formed by Penn Highlands Clearfield and Lock Haven University of Clearfield to form this new educational endeavor. Tours will follow.

The hospital and university worked together to relocate simulation equipment from LHU Clearfield’s clinical simulation laboratory on campus to the hospital’s former Intensive Care Unit. This equipment, along with the relocation of the hospital’s clinical simulation equipment will combine to form a new more realistic, hospital setting for student and staff training.

The Simulation Center will be regularly used by LHU nursing students, and it will be available for use by other healthcare professionals from the hospital and the rest of the Penn Highlands Healthcare system.

What is in the Simulation Center? Life-like adult, child and infant patient simulators that talk, breathe and blink are programmed to have symptoms that need attention.  Patient care procedures such as catheter insertions and dressing changes, assessments including blood  pressure, pulse, respiratory rate and listening to lungs, heart and bowel sounds can be practiced by students in a low stress setting designed to enhance learning.

Each simulator, like a real patient, has something different going on. Computer-generated scenarios based on real patients are designed to teach those providing care to think and react quickly just like real life.  The programmed vital signs and abnormal body sounds are visible on a computer screen enabling students to check the accuracy of their assessment. The clinical instructor is present to manipulate the patient scenarios, guide, and oversee the students.

“Locating such a center in the hospital provides a true-to-life environment,” according to Dee Hanna RN, MSN, LHU nursing instructor and Cathy Civiello, PhD, PH Clearfield director of Quality and Education. There is a nurses’ station, with computers for accessing the medical record for patient histories, lab results and physician’s orders. Dietary trays and medical equipment are also available for use in the patient simulations. “Students can ask questions and take their time in a non-threatening environment.  We can rewind and re-do scenarios enabling the students improve their competence and increase their confidence.” Hanna said. “They truly advance their skills and critical thinking each time they are here.”

The lab opened Sept. 24 of this year, but it is slated for more improvements. Already, two groups of LHU students are using the lab at least one time a week.  Additionally, the hospital has also started to use the center by moving some of its staff training to that location.

“It is a means to strengthen the level of healthcare provided throughout the region,” Mark Norman, interim president of PH Clearfield and chief operating officer at Penn Highlands Healthcare, said. “It will enhance our existing relationship with LHU, provide a safe environment where students and providers can practice patient care, maintain competencies, learn to work effectively with members of the healthcare team and use new skills in a setting where there is no actual risk to a patient.”

“The Simulation Center has been embraced by PH Clearfield employees,” Hanna said. “Members from leadership and all departments have eagerly contributed support, labor, ideas, equipment or supplies to provide the best learning experience for the students.”

“Lock Haven University is proud to be preparing the next generation of healthcare providers, managers, and educators,” Dr. Donna Wilson, provost and executive vice president at Lock Haven University, said. “We are very pleased to be able to partner with PH Clearfield on the Simulation Lab to enhance the preparation of our students and the lifelong learning of healthcare professionals at PH. This is exciting teamwork.”

“A community partnership for the simulation center has been a goal for the university for many years,” said Darlene Ardary, PhD, RN, CPN, CSN, simulation lab coordinator. “This is a wonderful opportunity to provide real-world education to not only nursing students, but healthcare providers in acute and primary care, as well as community based agencies.”

“The new simulation lab gives our students the opportunity to learn how to handle a variety of situations in a safe environment and develop critical-thinking and decision-making skills required in our profession,” said Jennifer DellAntonio, DEd, MSN, RN, CNE, chair and associate professor, LHU Nursing Department.

“The concept of combining simulation training with real-time access to example patient information is an innovation that will serve to enhance student training, and ultimately promote the highest quality of patient care,” Civiello said.

For more information or to RSVP for the event, call LHU at 814-7768-3401.

For more information on Lock Haven University, visit, email,or call 570-484-2011.

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Lock Haven University is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System, the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas of study. Nearly 520,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.   

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