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Long-term care simulation lab created in N.B. to help learn about spread of viruses in facilities


New Brunswick’s first ever long-term care simulation lab has officially opened in Saint John, giving researchers the chance to learn more about the spread of viruses - like COVID-19 - in long-term care facilities, and how to help prevent them.

The newly-renovated research space is located in Loch Lomond Villa in Saint John, N.B. The lab has been built to replicate a typical double-resident room with a shared bathroom, tub facility and hallways.

“In a simulated environment, you can control everything that happens,” says Rose McCloskey, nursing professor and the leader of the University of New Brunswick project. “We can introduce the variables we want to study, we can control things that we want to study, and so that’s one of the benefits of a simulated environment.”

The lab includes two life-like mannequins who can breathe, blink, speak, and even cough as they lay in the beds inside of the lab – allowing scientists to study illnesses in this type of setting, without compromising the health and safety of long term-care residents and staff.​

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, long-term care homes have been hard-hit by the virus, but McCloskey says lessons can be learned.

“It really highlighted some vulnerabilities in the system,” says McCloskey. “What this lab will allow us to do is learn more about what happened, why it happened and what we can do differently in the future. And, it will allow us to develop evidence-based strategies for health-care.”

A news conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Monday morning at Loch Lomond Villa to mark the opening of the lab – which was created with funding from the federal government, provincial government, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation and Bird Construction.

It’s also expected that, as the province propels itself towards the Green level of reopening, this research could also help with any other future viral outbreaks.

“The simulation lab will be able to rise to the viruses whatever they may be in the future,” says CEO of the Loch Lomond Villa, Cindy Donovan. “So that we can learn from our successes during COVID-19 but also things we need to improve.” Top Stories

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