Northwestern Medicine’s Lake Forest Hospital (Lake Forest, Ill) recently opened a new 14,000 ft2 simulation and education center designed to offer hospital staff, first responders, local colleges and community organizations access to state of the art education and training technology.

The Maxine and Thomas B. Hunter III Simulation and Education Center at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital will provide providing realistic, simulated healthcare settings via virtual reality, in-patient rooms, a full-size operating room, and the newest video and sound technologies. The center is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including high-fidelity simulators and a mixed reality learning space, and offers robust training and education solutions to improve performance and reduce learning gaps for hospital staff, local and regional healthcare and community providers.

“We are grateful to the Hunter Family Foundation for understanding and believing in the need to create a technologically-forward program that will benefit the Lake County community and beyond,” said Marsha Oberrieder, president at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. “This highly specialized immersion learning center provides a new level of educational excellence in healthcare for the region.”

Simulated patient scenarios allow clinicians, nurses, paramedics and medical students, to learn through action, improve their understanding of procedures, acquire new skills and further develop critical competencies. Utilizing mannequins, which are made to look and respond like human patients, and professional actors, participants become more immersed in the learning. Program outcomes include higher levels of staff and patient satisfaction, confidence and employee retention.

“As an Illinois Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Resource Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital provides educational resources that greatly impact and best suit the needs of our community,” said Andrew Arndt, program manager of simulation at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. “This unique and innovative center will help to ensure patients receive the highest quality care before they even enter our doors.”

The technology that drives simulation education is vital to keeping pace with rapidly changing methods of medical care education. The simulation program will continue to develop team-based education and training to improve patient care. In addition to it serving as a training facility for the Lake Forest Hospital clinical staff, it will also support other Northwestern Medicine care providers, including physician residents, participants in the nursing residency program, EMTs, paramedics, and to the broader community, including first responders, local students and other community partners throughout Lake County.

“We are pleased to support such an important initiative that will benefit the community as well as the region, and play a role in the quest to improve patient care,” said Thomas B. Hunter IV, board president of the Hunter Family Foundation. “This educational center supports our foundation’s mission to improve lives in a long-term and sustainable way, and to serve as a valued partner in building healthy, thriving communities.”

Other philanthropic partners have also made this simulation center possible, including the Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Women’s Board as well as other generous donors.