Mobile learning lab training heart teams - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Mobile learning lab training heart teams

CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital interventional cardiologist, Dr. Thomas Mulhearn, practices using the Impella device on a model inside the Mobile Learning Lab. (Source: KPLC) CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital interventional cardiologist, Dr. Thomas Mulhearn, practices using the Impella device on a model inside the Mobile Learning Lab. (Source: KPLC)
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A show and tell of sorts for cardiac care staff in Lake Charles brings them aboard a giant 18-wheeler.

Abiomed's Impella Mobile Learning Lab made a stop at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital, giving clinicians hands-on training for the world's smallest heart pump.

Interventional cardiologist, Dr. Thomas Mulhearn, and his cath lab team are responsible for caring for heart patients in life or death situations.  One of the newest tools is the Impella device, a tiny mechanical heart.

"Basically it's a catheter that goes inside the left ventricle of the heart," said Dr. Mulhearn.  "It's pretty small as you can see and that catheter basically sucks blood out of the left ventricle and pumps it into the aorta."

Dr. Mulhearn has trained extensively on this device, but as technology improves, he says he and his staff must ensure they are on the cutting edge of any changes and upgrades. 

The Impella Mobile Learning Lab is giving the cardiac team a walk-through, hands-on demo to get them even more familiar with the device outside of an operating room.

"They need to be able to see models like this before we do a live case," he said.  "The nursing staff and the radiation technology staff that is in the cases with us, it's very critical and important to learning how to prep the device, helping us to put it in.  You need more than one hand to do this type of thing and that's what this type of facility is for."

Impella simulators, animations and key information inside the Mobile Learning Lab are presented by a team of trainers.

Even Dr. Mulhearn, who has used the Impella device countless times, says you can never stop learning how to make patient outcomes the best.

"You've got to be engaged and learning these things," he said.  "The book of knowledge, so to speak, of cardiovascular medicine doubles every couple of years and there's more and more that you need to learn."

The Impella Mobile Learning Lab travels the country.  CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital is the only stop in Southwest Louisiana this week, where heart staff from across the region was invited to tour.

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