A nervous-looking Katharyn Woods, 10, sat on a hospital gurney in the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center as doctors and nurses poked and prodded at her.
About an hour ago Katharyn fell from a horse. She was knocked out cold for several minutes. Emergency-room physician Dr. Richard Newbold said that her fall caused a serious head injury, which would have to be checked out with a CAT scan. That was explained to Katharyn as a "big camera."
Every so often a woman wearing an "observer" badge wrote a remark on a clipboard.
Mary Woods, Katharyn's mother, looked calm through all of this. She interjected with a few questions. She soon learned that Katharyn's CAT scan confirmed a brain bleed. The girl needed a neurosurgeon right away. She had to be flown to Reno.
The truth is Katharyn hasn't ridden a horse for several years and she really isn't hurt.
"I did fall off one once, but someone caught me," Katharyn said before the Care Flight team buckled her in for the ride. She acted out the part by pretending to throw up in a plastic bag, and laying still when she's supposed to be unconscious.
Katharyn was part of an operations simulation scenario played out Wednesday morning at the new hospital, which will open Dec. 3. Doctors also responded to respiratory distress, a Code Blue, and 20 other simulations. Surgeons "operated" on knees and hearts, all in an effort to streamline the medical care process in the new facility, which is almost three times larger than the old hospital on Fleischmann Way.
Two hundred employees participated in the simulation. Each patient had about five staff members working their case.
"Even though it's pretend it helps them," said Woods, the system's director of business development. "And I learn how the hospital works."
And her daughter would get a ride in the Care Flight helicopter.
The simulations had some room for a little bit of humor, something that doesn't happen in the real cases. Nurse Linda Hurst yelled from one of the rooms that her patient has just passed out. Dr. David Tillitt remarked: "I hate it when that happens."
Chief Operations Officer Kevin Stansbury, who is observing the unconscious woman, said these simulations establish the corridor routes. For example, the unconscious woman will be taken down the staff corridor, to elevator three and then up to the Intensive Care Unit on the second floor.
"For us, this is not just about moving into a new hospital," he said. "It's about evaluating every system we have for improving patient care."
This is the hospital's second simulation. In the first, Chief Executive Officer Ed Epperson, who was posing as a heart surgery patient, noticed that the Code Blue calls weren't detailing where exactly in the corridor the patient was in distress. Some of the corridors are 200 feet long, and the lobby is huge, so it's imperative that staff know exactly where the patient is and where the nearest crash cart is located. Now each corridor has section numbers.
"I made that suggestion at the last simulation and that's a change already put into implementation," he said.
Katharyn's simulation ends at the helicopter pad. Just before she's about to go on her ride the helicopter team gets called to an accident in South Carson. In an emergency, the simulation takes a back seat.