CROWN POINT | Dressed in a colorful shirt, shorts and baseball hat, the beer-bellied mannequin lay on a hospital bed and blinked. His chest moved up and down to simulate breaths.
"This is Mr. Tom Johnson," said Marsha King, introducing the mannequin.
King, interim dean of the Crown Point campus of University of St. Francis at 12800 Mississippi Parkway, led a tour of the facility for U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, on Tuesday, which included a stop at the school's simulation lab.
King described how nursing students train with the simulators. A student sits with a mannequin and assesses vitals and symptoms.
On the other side of a glass window, a control room operator adjusts the mannequin's symptoms accordingly. Cameras and microphones zero in on the patient, allowing students to observe from a different room.
The high-tech equipment gives a more realistic experience for students, King said.
The nursing simulation lab was a highlight of the tour, as Visclosky helped secure funding for lab equipment.
The school cited nursing vacancy rates in Northwest Indiana, program growth at the Crown Point campus and efficacy of simulation labs in nursing education programs as reasons for needing the money.
Through an appropriation under the Health Resources and Services Administration, Visclosky helped the university secure $198,000 in grant money to buy equipment for the simulation lab, according to the university.
The tour of the facility included USF President Sister M. Elise Kriss; Vice President for Advancement Dr. Matthew Smith; Vice President of Adult Learning Dr. Toni Pauls; and Director of Marketing and Development Sandie Phalen.
Visclosky dropped in on students, many clad in medical attire such as scrubs. He asked school leaders about the programs offered, the type of students enrolled and the school's role in the community.
King said many of the students are nontraditional.
"Most are not right out of high school," she said.
A growing number of men are entering nursing, and many of the students are first-generation college students, she said.
The school offers online classes that many students take advantage of, Kriss said.
The Crown Point building also features a polycom classroom in which an instructor teaches remotely.
Arranged like a typical classroom, desks face a large television screen that streams live footage of the teacher. Cameras and microphones are arranged in the room, so students can ask questions, and the teacher can hear and see them, Phalen explained.
The school's main campus is in Fort Wayne, but the Crown Point location is growing, with 190 students enrolled, Kriss said.
Most programs are health care-related, but the school offers an associate degree in liberal studies, Phalen said.