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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Rogers students get to train on Providence Sacred Heart’s new and diverse manikins

Showcasing their newly acquired diverse manikins and training kits, Providence Sacred Heart hospital gave hands-on training to Rogers High School students during a field trip Friday.

Rogers junior Marissa Angel hopes to go into the medical field after graduation – having seen health care providers up close before her mother’s death.

“I wanted to be in the medical field since I was a little girl. Ever since I had saw (Mom) struggling in and out of the hospital for a long time, that just made me want to be in the medical field,” Angel said.

During the Friday field trip, Angel worked with life-size manikins used by the hospital to train their staff. Asked about putting a long tube down the throat of manikin Ipo, Angel said she was “extremely nervous.”

“Everyone was watching me but it was so interesting to, like, actually see how all this works. You can see diagrams, but you don’t ever get to see inside of the throat,” she said.

During the event with Rogers, Sacred Heart Chief Nursing Officer Neil Christopher Apeles said these programs are critical in getting students aware and interested in a medical career.

“It gives them the opportunity to have some hands-on participation to learn about health care careers,” he said.

The field trip was sponsored by Spokane’s NAACP, which hopes to create greater access to medical careers within communities of color.

“Exposure will close the opportunity gap in representation. Our young people need to understand how to get to the opportunities. And then we’ll have that representation when they’re in that space to speak up and advocate for persons of color,” said NAACP education committee chair and Shadle Park High School career councilor April Eberhardt.

One way Providence points to its efforts in making Sacred Heart more equitable is the use of new manikins and training kits that represent a wider range of skin tones and ages.

According to Apeles, these manikins are important for representation but also in educating hospital staff on the specific medical needs for those with darker skin tones.

“For someone with a darker skin tone, it takes a little bit different view of how you’re diagnosing certain conditions,” he said, “so it’s really important for students and current health care workers to recognize they are treating someone with a different color … and assess their skin very differently.”

For example, in some rashes or pressure injuries, those with lighter skin tend to have redness develop immediately. If medical professionals do not know this, they may miss an injury of someone with a darker skin tone, Apeles said.

Providence had manikins of various skin tones. But up until recently, they did not have what are called “high-fidelity” manikins of darker skin tones. These more realistic manikins allow hospital staff to be trained more holistically. These manikins are capable of reproducing physiologic functions of the human body such as breath, blinking, the movement of arms, a heartbeat and pulse. These lifelike reproductions even have blood in them.

They cost the hospital system’s foundation $180,000. The three new “high-fidelity” manikins with dark skin tones are currently in use at Sacred Heart. Ipo the manikin is an older female, then there’s an adult male called Tenny and a baby manikin they call Anissa.

Eberhardt said the manikins are needed to ensure Spokane’s communities of color receive equitable medical treatment.

“We need representation in the health care field in no small part because there are nuances to Black skin and there are things about our bodies that professionals need to understand caring for people of color,” Eberhardt said.

Angel welcomed the representation but said many institutions have a long way to go.

“Representation was not in everything I saw growing up,” she said. “So now that it’s getting introduced more and more into hospitals and schools and other places, it makes me feel welcomed.”