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August 03, 2020

Take a trip through the decades at Methodist safety fair

IU Health Methodist Hospital

Take a trip through the decades at Methodist safety fair

CVCC nurses refresh their skills during an annual training event that aims to teach while building camaraderie.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist,

Beware all who enter here – dinosaurs may roam the sixth floor at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

Nurses on the cardiovascular critical care unit at Methodist are taking a step back in time – way back in time – for the unit’s annual safety fair, a creative training event put on by Jessica Jones and her team.

“Through the Decades,” evolving from the prehistoric era to modern day, takes shape on the special pathogens unit – a typically vacant space that allows the team to create six themed training stations for the unit’s 130 staff to experience.

Jones, manager of clinical operations for the CVCC, challenges her staff to come up with a theme for the event every year, then they take charge of planning and decorating. Last year’s theme had Jones dressed up as Professor Dumbledore from “Harry Potter.”

This year, she is Doc Brown from “Back to the Future,” complete with a time-traveling DeLorean automobile – in this case a smartly wrapped Little Tikes Cozy Coupe.

The key here is to brush up on nursing skills while having fun – something sorely needed in these days of COVID-19, Jones said. Still, some changes had to be made.

“We’re only doing groups of five to six now so we can support social distancing, and we wipe down every room between groups,” she said.

Hand sanitizer is dispensed at every station, masks are worn at all times, and food now comes individually wrapped. In the 1960s-themed NASA room, think Moon Pies and packets of Tang.

“We ran our plan through infection prevention to make sure it was OK. We asked ourselves if we really needed to have this event, and the answer is yes,” Jones said.

“We’ve just been so stressed since March, and we’re all getting drained and worn out. I’m hoping this is re-energizing for our team.”

Nurses receive credit for three hours of training on top of their 36-hour work weeks for completing the safety fair stations, which focus on emergent procedures, infection prevention, patient experience, ventilators and trach care, mobility/skin care and surgery jeopardy.

In the NASA room, shift coordinators Dee Goffinet and Scott Garrard are dressed in space suits as they quiz nurses on the contents of an emergency code cart. Additions this year are N-95 masks and goggles for use with COVID-19 patients.

Instructors in this room model their questions on the game of Password, allowing each team member to use one-word clues to guess the medical word hidden on individual cards.

Move aside the hanging beads and enter the 1970s room, where disco plays (on an iPhone) and participants compete in Jeopardy! with categories including transplant, aneurysm repairs and CVCC potpourri. Give me heart transplant for 200, Alex.

Other rooms (and other decades) feature the game shows Wheel of Fortune and Match Game to keep contests between teams lively. Participants collect chips at each station that can be combined for team bragging rights.

Last year, the team had a unit on civility in the workplace, so this year they created a code of conduct and used the safety fair as a way to review its points with team members.

One of its tenets, nurse Hannah Valentine told the group, is to hold each other up both on and off the unit. In other words, “don’t be talking smack about each other,” she said. “Respect each other. Be the person others look up to.”

“Our goal is always to give our patients the best experience,” added RN Caitie Perkins. “That means being respectful to each other and putting our patients first. The code of conduct allows us and encourages us to do that.”

Jones said she always notices positive changes on the unit after the safety fair, whether it is mobility equipment being used more often or harm-prevention skin products applied more frequently. Best practices are always changing, so even someone who has been a nurse for 20 years can learn something at the event.

“It’s a lot to do, but I look forward to it every year,” she said, noting the laughter and camaraderie on display in every room. “Look around. It’s really fun.”

The safety fair kicked off last week and continues Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist,

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