A first look at the patient care lab at the new Columbus State Regional Learning Center in the Reynoldsburg BELL (business, engineering, leadership and law) Academy might raise a few eyebrows.
Most high schools do not have classrooms lined with hospital beds, or people in the beds.
Looking closer, the "people" are sophisticated "patient simulators" programmed with realistic-looking health problems. Some are capable of breathing sounds and other sounds, to help students with hands-on learning as they obtain health care certification.
The new Regional Learning Center opened Jan. 14 in BELL Academy, 6699 E. Livingston Ave., using 18 classes in the high school that were "repurposed" for Columbus State, Reynoldsburg City Schools Superintendent Steve Dackin said.
The space includes six "smart" classrooms equipped with DVD and Internet access, specialized software, LCD projectors and projector screens; two science laboratories; a patient-care classroom for medical and health profession classes; a library with writing and tutoring areas and an administrative and student affairs area with a break room and conference room.
Dackin called himself a "recovering principal" when the center first opened.
"I always dreamed that senior year in high school would be more than a social hour," he said. "Now a student could potentially graduate from high school with a high school diploma and an associate degree."
Susan Norris Berry, Columbus State Community College administrator for regional learning centers, said students working in the patient care lab might learn how to resuscitate someone who has stopped breathing or to use other essential first-aid techniques.
Or they could simply learn how to safely turn a patient over in bed or manipulate a wheelchair, she said. In that case, an actual student might pinch hit for the simulator, with an instructor demonstrating proper technique to the other students.
"They do sometimes practice on each other," she said. "The lab has Resusci Annes to learn resuscitation and other patient simulators so that students are provided with a unique opportunity to actually manipulate patients and learn how hospital beds and other equipment operate.
"We offer entry-level foundation classes for multiple health care certificates and eventual degrees," she said.
Berry said students could start by getting state certification as a health care aide, get employed, then continue to take classes for further health certification.
"The goal is to continue the health care education," she said.
She said the patient care labs are realistic rooms that include curtains around the beds and real hospital beds and equipment.
"We are very proud of the lab because it closely mirrors a good health care facility," she said.
Columbus State paid $1 million for renovations at the learning center, while the district paid $1.6 million. According to the agreement between the two, Columbus State may operate the learning center at BELL rent-free with no utility costs, in return for offering college classes for Reynoldsburg High School students at a reduced rate of $25 per credit hour.
Other students enrolled at the new learning center pay $122 per credit hour.
Berry said about 950 adult students have enrolled since Jan. 14.
"As we become known in the neighborhood, we will attract more students," she said. "We offer what we call general education classes in math, English, social studies and science, which are classes needed across multiple degrees and certificates. You might be sitting next to a nursing student who is sitting next to a law student.
"We hold classes from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., so we have a robust evening program for community members seeking to update or obtain job skills," she said.
Berry said BELL students have begun taking Early College Academy classes at the center.
"We started with 80 sophomores who are taking an introductory college skills course that teaches critical thinking, study skills, time management and other skills to help students navigate the college landscape," she said.
She said dual enrollment classes for Reynoldsburg students will begin in the fall. Under dual enrollment, students could potentially graduate from high school with a college degree.
"It is a wonderful opportunity for high school students to earn college credits," she said. "If students follow the pathway we make for them, they could work sophomore year through their senior year in earning college credits and could potentially earn an associate degree."
Berry said the patient care lab combines lecture space with hands-on lessons.
"Students could listen to a lecture in the first part of the room, maybe watch a video and listen to the instructor, then get up and practice what they have learned on the patient simulators in the hospital beds," she said. "It is an extremely successful way for us to teach and for students to learn."