The Miami Dolphins moved to a new practice complex this year at their home football stadium in Miami Gardens. They left behind a sprawling compound in Davie on the campus of Nova Southeastern University.
With the Dolphins gone from Davie and the fields turned over to campus lacrosse and soccer, the rest of the facility is undergoing a major change. And it has nothing to do with sports.
NSU is converting the complex, used by the Dolphins since the early 1990s, to a hospital — but one without patients.
The $56 million project will expand the sports facility into a 107,000-square-feet healthcare training center, where students will learn how to do surgery, assist in delivering babies, and respond to medical emergencies using simulations, including with robots, holograms, and virtual and augmented reality.
The closest thing to living patients at the hospital will be donated human bodies and organs.
“In the past, we really relied on the clinical experience that a student would have in a clinical rotation in a hospital, where the students can be exposed to a variety of situations. But they may not encompass all the situations that you would need to develop in your skill set and decision making knowledge,” said Dr. Harry Moon, NSU’s chief operating officer and executive vice president.
“This will augment, not replace, but augment the patient experience,” he said, “and it will be patient-centered so we don’t let technology become the driving force.”
How will it work?
Pilots and astronauts use simulators to help train for real-world situations. NSU Health plans to use the same concept to teach students how to handle different real-world situations that occur at hospitals and emergency departments, without the risk of real-patient complications.
The simulations won’t replace the real-life clinical rotation experience students are required to get. But college leaders hope the simulations serve as additional training to better prepare the future nurses and doctors who one day may save your life, particularly now that the country has a nursing shortage.
Through the new center, Moon said NSU Health plans to prepare students in the virtual world to reduce their learning curve in the real world. NSU Health includes all of the university’s health divisions, including its nursing and medical schools.
Moon said a physician at the center, for example, could use “holographic components” while speaking about a patient with a cardiac valvular problem. The doctor could listen to the patient’s heartbeat with a stethoscope and see the electrocardiogram.
Moon said a physician could also reach in, remove the heart and show the students the deformity caused by mitral stenosis. A teacher could demonstrate how closed valves affect blood flow and then simulate how to repair or replace the valve.
The new center, known as the Interprofessional Simulation Complex, or SimCom, is set to open in spring 2024 on NSU’s Davie campus, off University Drive and Interstate 595. It’s considered to be the first of its kind in Florida, according to NSU President and CEO George L. Hanbury II.
The building will have over 105 simulation spaces, including operating rooms and outpatient exam rooms. There will be 3D modeling/animation and 16 “human and fresh tissue stations,” where students and physicians can practice surgical training, such as hip replacement, on cadavers. The university says it will also be able to transmit images and simulations to its eight regional campuses.
SimCom will be open around the clock and will be accessible to people across healthcare, including students, doctors, dentists, nurses, physical therapists and EMS workers, according to Moon. It will also offer learning opportunities in healthcare for people who work in the law, technology and business fields.
Moon knows it all sounds very Star Trek. He says the technology is so advanced, it could make you do a double-take.
“It is the future and the future is now,” Moon said. “A new beginning of simulated learning that is as close to the real thing as it can possibly be.”