The new three-story Margaret H. Rollins School of Nursing at Beebe Healthcare building in Lewes, Del., has received rave reviews from nursing students and faculty.
The 18,000-square-foot building which includes two classrooms for 60 students each, simulation labs, state-of-the-art manikins and other new features opened to the great anticipation of students who started fall classes on Aug. 24.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been this excited to go back to school,” said second-year nursing student Megan VanSant.
The nursing program at Beebe Healthcare started in 1920 and was accredited in 1921, according to a news release. Since the 1960s, the school had been located in a small building behind the hospital, said Karen Pickard, MSN, RN, CNE, program administrator for the Margaret H. Rollins School of Nursing at Beebe Healthcare.
Previously called the Beebe School of Nursing, the school started raising the $10 million needed for the modernization project in 2002. The largest donation was a $3 million gift in 2011 by long-time Beebe supporter Margaret H. Rollins and her husband, Randall, through a foundation they created. Margaret Rollins, who now lives in Atlanta, grew up in Lewes and was born at the Beebe hospital, and because of the generous donation, the school of nursing was renamed after her, Pickard said.
In 2012, students and staff were temporarily relocated to other buildings on the hospital campus so the new facility could be built on the old school’s footprint, Pickard said. Staff moved into the new building in June and students have just started using the facilities.
A hallmark of the project is the updated technology, including six new Laerdal manikins that improve the student learning experience over the standard, no-frills manikins from the 1950s and 1960s that the school used before.
“We’re moving into the 21st century in terms of technology,” said Angela Kontoulas, a second-year student at the school.
The new wireless manikins have patient-simulating capabilities including simulating the birth of a baby, making breath sounds and demonstrating signs and symptoms chronic diseases and acute illnesses. Under a nurse’s control, they can react to the student’s efforts.
“You can create any medical situation,” Pickard said. “They are the Cadillac of high-fidelity simulators.”
The school also has two simulation labs with one-way mirrors so students can watch their peers interact with a manikin, VanSant said. The rooms also have cameras and microphones to record the student’s interaction, which allows her to watch her performance with her classmates and receive feedback.
“You can see exactly where you went wrong; you can see exactly what you did right,” VanSant said.
The labs also give students the opportunity to make mistakes without real-life consequences. “It’s really safe,” she added.
Pickard said the school has two classes of about 30 students each, but with the expansion will have room to double the enrollment to 60 students in each classroom.
Other amenities — such as a student lounge with seating, a fireplace and a television — will give students who commute to campus a place to gather, study together and build camaraderie, VanSant said.
The building also has a kitchenette, locker area, mailboxes and library.
The school showed off its new facilities to donors, alumni, prospective students and community members during an open house in July. Many alumni were amazed by the technology, “They thought it was going to be so great for our learning,” VanSant said.
Students aren’t the only ones excited to start the school year. The faculty are eager to get back as well.
“I want to pinch myself,” Pickard said. “I can’t believe it’s really happened.”
Karen Long is a freelance writer.