A team led by Clarian Health Partners will add a $44 million training center to the cluster of life sciences businesses taking root around the Central Canal on the northern edge of downtown.
The Indianapolis hospital network recently filed plans with the city to build a six-story, 182,750-square-foot building on the eastern side of the canal. The site sits just south of a pathology laboratory on 11th Street that Clarian plans to dedicate later this month.
The Indiana University schools of medicine and nursing also invested in the training center, and the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation contributed $6 million toward its construction.
Their reward will be a center that expands training and ultimately boosts patient safety, advocates of the project say. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals will be able to train in simulated operating, labor-and-delivery and patient rooms.
A medical school dean likened the training to how a pilot sharpens skills.
"The pilot doesn't learn by crashing 1,000 Cessnas on the runway," said Dr. Stephen Leapman, executive associate dean for educational affairs. "They get into simulators, and they practice over and over again, and they practice different situations."
The center will train thousands of medical and nursing students as well as Clarian professionals, Clarian spokesman Jon Mills said.
It also will be used to train medical professionals "throughout our state and beyond," said Clarian CEO Daniel F. Evans Jr. in an e-mail.
"This project adds further momentum to the growth of the life-sciences corridor, and it builds on Clarian's vision of pre-eminence in clinical excellence, patient safety, quality and in the education and training of physicians, nurses and students," Evans said.
The center will provide trainees with more elaborate simulation programs than they now use.
"We [currently] have a couple dummies here, simulators over there," Leapman said. "Everything is going to be in the same spot so nurses, physicians, etc., can all come together and practice."
That is critical to reducing medical errors, according to Marion Broome, dean of the nursing school. Those commonly spawn from a number of mistakes and a lack of communication instead of one person doing something wrong.
"Patients are so complex, and when things happen, it's usually not a really simple answer," she said. "You have to have a lot of people's heads working together to get the best solution."
Most of the building space will be for education and training, though a portion is earmarked for office space for Clarian and the two IU schools.
The simulation rooms, which also will include intensive care units and an ambulance, will give "the look and feel that you're actually in the venue you're supposed to be in," Leapman said.
The center also will provide computer training, programmed dummies, and training with real people posing as patient family members. The last scenario will help medical personnel practice delivering bad news like a patient's death.
The high-tech dummies can be programmed for a number of scenarios. For instance, they can respond with elevated blood pressure or dilated pupils to simulated drug injections, Leapman said.
"These are wonderful learning tools," he said.
Surgical simulators will allow doctors to practice colonoscopies or heart catheterizations, among other procedures.
Leapman said the renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and the universities of Pittsburgh and Louisville have similar training programs.
Hospitals in general have started doing more simulation training, said Duane Sobecki, a senior partner with Sobecki and Associates, an Indianapolis-based medical consulting firm.
Simulation training allows medical personnel to gain valuable practice for situations they rarely confront.
"You can model a catastrophe, or you can model a disaster like avian flu if you wanted to," he said. "The possibilities are endless."
Health care attorney William Thompson called the center a smart investment.
"It's almost taking industrial-engineering concepts and applying them to medicine in terms of process. 'How do we go about doing things?' And, 'Are there ways to bring better efficiencies to how we deliver care?'" said Thompson, a managing partner at the Indianapolis law firm of Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman.
Clarian and its partners will build the center in an area that's become crowded with life sciences development. Across 11th Street, the hospital network will host a ribbon cutting April 18 for its $65 million pathology lab.
Across the Central Canal from the planned training center, crews are constructing the $42 million IU Medical Information Sciences Building. And one block south, the IU Emerging Technologies Center opened its doors in 2003.
The center will sit on a roughly sixacre site across Senate Avenue from the Stutz Business Center. It now serves as a parking lot for construction trucks and trailers and a storage site for pallets of bricks earmarked for the pathology lab across the street.
Drawings filed with the city show room for roughly 430 parking spaces on the land. They also show an elevated walkway between the building and the Clarian People Mover stop in front of the pathology lab.
Mills said the $44 million construction cost is preliminary.
Clarian has owned the land a couple of years. The hospital network announced in 2004 that it had chosen a team that includes Lauth Property Group Inc. and BSA LifeStructures to develop the property. Clarian also had formed a not-forprofit partnership with the city and IU called Canal Life Sciences Development Co. to decide the land's future.
Mills said Clarian and its partners hope to start construction this summer and finish by 2008. The project still needs an approval from the Metropolitan Development Commission's planning staff, city spokesman Justin Ohlemiller said.