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CAMLS offers high-tech medical training

It has only been 10 days since USF’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) opened its doors, but the new 90,000-square-foot facility is already setting many firsts.

CAMLS is built to an “unprecedented scale,” as it encompasses a city block facing Franklin Street in downtown Tampa, and provides students, heath professionals and health staff a training and research center limited “only by (one’s) imagination,” said Dr. John Armstrong, a trauma surgeon and CAMLS chief medical officer.

Thirteen months and $38 million in the making, the grand opening for the research, education and training facility is scheduled for March 30. However, CAMLS opened Feb. 6 for medical tours and patient care, said CAMLS CEO Debby Sutherland. The cost was covered by the USF Financing Corporation with help from a $20 million loan from BB&T, according to the USF Board of Trustees website, and a $750,000 grant from the Department of Defense to train combat medics.

USF Health CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko said health care training has been a “single-person sport” for too long, and the CAMLS facility could lead more hospitals and health care providers to improve their approach to competency testing. It is the first center to promote such a change in the way health care is taught.

“When you get on an airline you know that your pilot is competent … because in the last six months, that pilot has had his technical and teamwork competence assessed,” he said. “In medicine, we haven’t had that. As good of a surgeon as Dr. Armstrong is – I’m a surgeon, and the last time I got my technical competence assessed was in 1984.”

Rather than a simple simulation center, Klasko said CAMLS is an “assessment-of-skills-and-teamwork-competence center.”

Though they traditionally train as individuals or in pairs, students, health professionals and health staff can be trained together to work in teams in the Surgical and Interventional Training Center, located on the ground floor of the building, Armstrong said.

“You can look at each of these stations and picture one surgeon or proceduralist at each station,” Armstrong said. “But what I see when I look at each station, I see the surgeon and the assistant and the anesthesiologist or anesthetist and the circulating nurse and the scrub tech and the logistics people to help supply this operating room. I see a team.”

The Surgical and Interventional Training Center has two surgical skill labs that offer a combined 39 surgical stations for practice on dummy patients. There are 38 labs in total at CAMLS.

Across the hall from the largest skills lab is the Hybrid Operating Theater, a hospital

room where melodic tones and morphing shades of colored, ambient light work to keep patients and medical teams cool under pressure, Armstrong said.

“It provides a room where the focus is on the patient without all the distractions that can be an impediment to patient care,” he said. “Distractions with noise in particular.”

The theater is a “hybrid” because it merges two normally divided sets of medical rooms so patients do not need to be moved to another room, which Armstrong said can take 45 minutes. Instead, both interventional radiology procedures, which are done inside a patient’s blood vessels, and open surgical procedures, which are done by making incisions in the skin can be performed in the same room.

“For example, someone has a heart attack,” Armstrong said. “They have a blocked blood vessel to the heart. The first form of intervention is interventional cardiology … where balloons are placed inside the blood vessel of the heart to open up the blood vessel. That doesn’t always work and when it doesn’t work, what’s required is a full open operation: heart bypass surgery.”

The second floor features an auditorium that can seat 200 people and three 50-seat classrooms that can each expand to 100-seat theater-style classrooms where Sutherland said USF classes will be held.

“It is also the University of South Florida’s urban campus,” she said. “So now we have a fixed presence in downtown Tampa for holding our academic courses … It really offers so much more flexibility in terms of our course offerings than what we’ve had in the past.”

Economically, CAMLS is anticipated to generate about $5 to $6 million for Tampa through flights to the city, hotels, rentals and restaurant visits, Sutherland said.

“Everybody who comes here will be repeat learners,” Sutherland said. “We’re developing

an educational home for clinicians in all specialties, so we expect those folks would be returning on a regular basis.”

Dr. Laura Haubner, a neonatologist and medical director for the CAMLS Virtual Patient Care Center, where medical personal can train on life-like human dummies and life-like artificial human tissue, said

“It’s learner-driven education, not instructor-driven,” she said. “Traditionally medical instruction has been instructor-driven. If you shove 200 people in a room, it might be more efficient for some purposes, but for the learners to really learn like adults, it is not so efficient. Adults learn by doing.”