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Madigan renovates, expands medical simulation center

Two military personnel wearing masks, "operating" on a dummy Trainees practice nerve repair on simulation equipment at Madigan Army Medical Center’s Andersen Simulation Center. (Photo by Ryan Graham.)

The Charles A. Andersen Simulation Center has been a fixture at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Washington since 2002. Yet, when the hospital commander, Army Col. Christopher Warner; the center’s medical director, Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jillian Phelps; past directors, base leadership and local media gathered on Friday, August 28 to cut the ribbon on the renovated facility, every inch of the training facility was brand new.

“This center now will encompass three separate facilities that span over 24,000 square feet within the Madigan Army Medical Center complex” said Warner in remarks during the ceremony. “Here where we’re standing today will be our main center. This location will provide a continuum of care experience that includes our pre-hospital services, an ER capability, an OR capability and an ICU training environment. All which mimic those that are seen within our hospital. The equipment that is located here is the same as in our facility. The rooms are at the same level and grade as what you would see in our facility. So that it is a realistic and real life experience in simulation for all of our trainees that come through.”

The ASC’s initial footprint was the old Madigan operating room site, consisting of 1,100 square feet and minimal personnel. Over the last 18 years, the need for simulation to facilitate graduate medical education, military medical provider readiness for deployed settings, as well as patient safety initiatives in support of a high reliability organization have all increased demand.

Dr. Phelps demonstrating on a "dummy"
Andersen Simulation Center Medical Director Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jillian Phelps shows the anatomy of one of the mannequins as she shows the facilities to attendees of the Center's ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Photo by Ryan Graham.)

In 2007, the center expanded in conjunction with an Army Medical Command effort to enhance graduate medical education through simulation training. This effort included the creation of the Central Simulation Committee, and Army-wide body that is headquartered at JBLM. The committee has achieved its goal of developing a consortium of simulation expertise and standardizing curriculum across the 10 medical treatment facilities that provide graduate medical education training. In 2010, the Andersen Simulation Center received full accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare.

A capstone field training exercise (FTX) each spring brings units from across the base to include Special Forces, Air Force and Guard partners to take graduating residents through a combat scenario that is unique in the Army and as close to the battlefield as trainees can get.

This exercise has grown in tandem with the ASC’s operational complex. The FTX and operational simulation were both championed by retired Army Col. (Dr.) Imad Haque, a former center director who was in attendance at the ceremony.

“As we look to the future, not only this facility here, but the additional spaces, the operational complex which you’ll get a view of today, which now provides the capability for realistic battlefield and Role I and Role II capabilities for our Soldiers, our doctors, our nurses, to not only work by themselves, but in teams to practice, rehearse, so that we ensure that we deliver a ready medical force to meet the needs of our force for any mission, anywhere, any time,” Warner noted.

The operational complex exposes personnel to the sensory elements they would find in an austere environment. Sounds, smells, lighting and smoke all put medical responders in a realistic situation to promote their abilities to practice their life-saving skills under the stressful conditions found on the battlefield. Practice within the operational complex utilizes the equipment personnel will use when deployed.

Within the hospital is the Just-in-Time Center that provides around-the-clock, onsite access to high fidelity simulation equipment that allows personnel to practice procedures before performing them on patients. With this training experience, residents can practice scenarios of dealing with complications that could arise during procedures, giving them the opportunity hone skills, firsthand, without any risk of harm.

The ASC also has the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic and Fundamentals of Endoscopic surgical training equipment, as Madigan is the only Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons-certified testing site in the state of Washington to ensure general surgeons and obstetrics/gynecologists are able to complete required testing to ensure the residents are board-eligible on graduation.

The Andersen Simulation Center has extended Madigan’s outreach to the Pacific Northwest region, facilitating training with the Tacoma Trauma Trust, enhancing inter-agency disaster preparedness, and improving communication among governmental and civilian partners alike.

Warner projects the impact of the $5 million investment renovation constitutes well into the future of military medicine.

“First, we are investing in our future. We are training more than 300 doctors, nurses and countless medics in this facility, not only to serve here and now but to serve for the next 20, 30 years within our military medical force. These will be the frontline leaders, not only in the operations that we see going around the world now, but for those in the future,” Warner said.

To view the ceremony and take a virtual tour of the facility, visit Madigan’s Facebook page at

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

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