Dell Seton staff carry out fast-paced simulation ahead of hospital opening

Dell Seton doctors, nurses and medics train during a simulation for the new hospital's opening. (KXAN Photo/Gigi Barnett)
Dell Seton doctors, nurses and medics train during a simulation for the new hospital's opening. (KXAN Photo/Gigi Barnett)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The old University Medical Center Brackenridge has been an Austin landmark for decades, but its days are numbered. The new Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas opens its doors in less than two weeks.

And doctors and nurses are sharpening their skills with new tools, technology and mock drills to prepare.

For the first time Wednesday, the hospital tested one of its top trauma teams in a drill that included STAR Flight pilots and medics. The fast-paced simulation centered on a patient involved in a Motocross accident.

“Try not to move and relax,” said one of the medics to the patient during the mock drill. “Good news is you’re in the right place now.”

This is when the minutes count, and the hospital staff knows it. Medics whisk him inside an elevator that shoots him from the seventh floor right into a trauma room on the first floor.

He’s instantly surrounded by a team of doctors and nurses. “Jack, do you know where you are right now?” asked the doctor. “You hurt anywhere down here?” A nurse asks, “Can we get him exposed, please?”

The mock drill is the first of two simulations over the next week and a half, before the staff moves into the new $310 million, 517,000 square-foot hospital.

This level-one trauma center is nothing like the old Brackenridge.

When it opens on May 21 at 7:01 a.m., everything has to be ready to go, especially the trauma bays, which can transform into operating rooms. It’s a level of versatility doctors didn’t have at Brackenridge.

Chief of Trauma Dr. Carlos Brown said, “We can provide any kind of trauma care, any kind of surgical care compared to any hospital in the country. We are designed right from the get-go to take care of the most severely-injured patients.”

Everything from the helipad to how patients are discharged centers on the patient’s comfort. For months, the staff was a little nervous about the move, said Debra Hernandez, the hospital’s chief of nursing and operations.

“Now, there’s this passion building to get in here, because we know it’s going to be fabulous,” she said.

The hospital is hosting a string of events leading up to the move, including an open house at the new hospital on Saturday between 1 and 5 p.m.

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