Mount Marty College (MMC) can officially say its latest project has reached completion.
On Thursday, the college hosted an open house to celebrate the official opening of the Avera Nursing and Simulation Center.
The facility, previously known as the Old Library, was under renovation a majority of this year while its second floor was reconfigured into new classrooms and offices.
Most of it was complete by the time classes started in late August and has been in use since.
The most notable feature is the state-of-the-art nursing simulation lab, which provides the flexibility needed for in-depth, hands-on training in a variety of health care situations ranging from basic health assessments to advanced life support.
The simulation rooms range from an average hospital/clinic room to a space similar to assisted-living quarters. Each room also has humanistic dummies that have body features to that of real people.
Both the first and second floors also have display cases that, in time, will fill with paraphernalia showcasing the history of MMC’s nursing program.
MMC President Marc Long thanked the many donors — including Avera Health for its contribution of $1 million — for bringing the project to fruition.
"Our nursing program is something we’re very proud of, but it’s true that our facilities and technology haven’t always kept up with the quality of education," he said. "That changes today."
Jenny McGinnis, an MMC alum and nurse practitioner at the Yankton Medical Clinic, admitted that she previously couldn’t imagine the Old Library being turned into what it is today.
"How did we survive this long without this great addition? We had great instructors," she said. "They created and executed simulation opportunities before simulation was cool."
She explained that the reason the simulation aspect is being highlighted is because it provides nursing students a chance to fail in a safe environment.
"I’d like to say that I came out (of MMC) polished and shiny, but I wasn’t," she said. "This gives our students an opportunity — especially in the review of their simulations — to see where they could improve."
Giving students that experience prior to their graduation will increase their confidence and proficiency in their care of patients, she added.
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital CEO and Regional President Doug Ekeren pointed out that the facility will be used not only by MMC students, but also by those in the Yankton community.
"Nurses are at the core of this resource, but other disciplines — including physicians, nurse practitioners and EMTs — will benefit from this," he said. "But I think the real benefit will be for the future patients that will be serviced by folks that had the opportunity to use these resources. This is a critical improvement to ensure that there is adequate availability of trained, competent healthcare professionals in this region."
Dr. Mary Anne Krogh, MMC’s first Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences, noted that the college has seen an uptick in freshmen enrolled as nursing students. She believes this was due, in part, to the new simulation labs.
"Other nursing schools have simulation labs," she said. "What they don’t have is our family environment and our Benedictine values. People here look out for each other, and the faculty is really invested in the students."
This investment — both in a driving sense and a financial sense — is what has made the center a reality.
"Personally, I remain proud of my Catholic education based in Benedictine values at Mount Marty," McGinnis said. "That tradition continues with the opening of these simulation labs. It will provide students with the nursing skills they need to provide compassionate nursing care for all those they encounter."
For more information about the Avera Nursing and Simulation Center, contact Krogh at 605-668-1206 or Vice President for Advancement Barb Rezac at 605-668-1292.
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