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UND awarded $4.98 million for SIM-ND

Posted on 8/9/2012

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded the ND STAR (North Dakota Simulation, Teaching and Research) Center for Healthcare Education Center at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences a $4.98 million grant to bring mobile simulation education to rural North Dakota. The new program, called SIM-ND (Simulation in Motion-North Dakota), will provide education and training in medical-trauma events to help providers in the state deliver high-quality health care in the safest way possible.

"Our investment in the simulation program in North Dakota, we feel, will change lives," said Walter Panzirer, trustee of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. He cited the great distances rural volunteer emergency personnel have to travel to receive their training. Because of this, volunteers are forced to choose between work, the farm or family life in order to get the training necessary to maintain their skills, and you start to see a decline in the number of volunteers, which hampers the EMS system.

"With this program, we hope it will encourage more people to stay in emergency medical service and and more people to go into EMS," he said. Another benefit would be the uniformity of the training. "If everyone is taught the same thing, the outcomes will be better." The Helmsley Charitable Trust invested in a similar system in South Dakota. "We have had inquiries from other countries that are interested in what we are doing in America's heartland. It is interesting to see that we have the world's attention in what we are doing in South Dakota and now in North Dakota."

Four large trucks with custom-made classrooms will be stationed in Grand Forks, Fargo, Bismarck and Minot. A three-person crew from each of the state's six major hospital systems (Altru Health
System, Essentia Health, Sanford Health in Fargo and Bismarck, St. Alexius Medical Center and Trinity Health) will be teaching in each mobile simulation unit. ND STAR will train the educators, manage the operation of all four mobile simulation units, schedule all programming for the units, and provide ongoing monitoring, evaluation and development. The North Dakota Department of Health will provide oversight of the entire project.

"Emergency health-care personnel are a critical part of our health-care system," said State Health Officer Terry Dwelle, M.D. "And it's important they receive the training and experience needed to maintain and enhance their skills."

The three-year grant began August 1, 2012. During the first year, the grant will cover 100 percent of the costs of the trucks, simulators, equipment and a major portion of salaries. During the subsequent two years, the grant will cover a portion of the ongoing expenses with the six major hospital systems in the state each contributing to cover the remainder.

"This program is so exciting because it will take training using cutting-edge technology right into our communities, particularly in western North Dakota, where rapid growth from the oil boom has affected the population," Dwelle said. "The Helmsley Charitable Trust focuses on rural areas like North Dakota. Helmsley's investment in SIM-ND will allow us to take training right to the health care workers in the state who need it."

Denis MacLeod
assistant director, Office of Alumni and Community Relations
UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences
(701) 777-2733

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