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Double wins for College of Medicine simulation centers

Sites are awarded full accreditation; Saginaw location receives robotic surgery system

Contact: Gary H. Piatek


​Central Michigan University's College of Medicine has received a double dose of good news:

  • Its simulation centers in Mount Pleasant and Saginaw, Michigan, were awarded full accreditation in teaching and education.
  • A robotic surgery training system has been installed in its  Covenant HealthCare Simulation Center in Saginaw.

The Society for Simulation in Healthcare's five-year accreditation puts Central among just four colleges and universities in Michigan with SSH-accredited programs and among the roughly 110 accredited programs in 20 countries. The three programs in Michigan are at Michigan State University, Western Michigan University and Lansing Community College.

To earn full accreditation in teaching and education, programs have to demonstrate regular, recurring simulation educational activities with clearly stated objectives and provide evidence of ongoing improvement.

The accreditors were particularly impressed with the required faculty training for all facilitators, said Dr. Robert Sasso, director of the Saginaw-based simulation center.

"It is very significant that we are recognized on a national platform," said Mena Khan, assistant director of medical simulation at the Saginaw simulation center. "This demonstrates that we are educating at the highest level."

The da Vinci advantage

Covenant HealthCare is helping the simulation center stay on the cutting edge of technology with its recent donation of a da Vinci robotic surgical training system.

Having a da Vinci system is significant not only in that it allows physicians to perform refined and minimally invasive surgery, but it "gives surgeons their wrists back," said Sasso, explaining that traditional laparoscopic surgery does not typically utilize articulated instruments.

Plus, the separate control panel gives surgeons even finer motor skills than bare hands because modifications have taken away even microtremors, he said.

"Residents will be highly prepared to start doing their first robotic case with great skill even before hitting the operating room," Sasso said.

Robotic surgery is one of the best minimally invasive options available to help patients, said Dr. Elizabeth Paulus in CMU Health's surgery department in Saginaw.

Paulus is among the few female surgeons in Michigan to perform a robotic Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer using the da Vinci robotic system.

 "It's really significant that in Saginaw we have state-of-the-art medical care that is not available at a lot of hospitals," she said.

Ed Bruff, president and CEO of Covenant Healthcare, agrees.

"Providing the latest technology to our teams and students is important to Covenant. We are proud to sponsor the simulation lab in Saginaw, and we want it to be fitted with state-of-the-art technology to support the next generation of doctors develop their skills."


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