The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron wants regional and national training programs to become a backbone for the center’s financial health going forward.
This weekend, about 80 doctors-in-training from throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania are in Akron to learn about pediatric orthopedic surgery.
Starting Friday and continuing today, the orthopedic residents are getting experience on how to care for kids with club feet, curved spines, fractures and other problems through a medical education program sponsored by Akron Children’s Hospital.
The participants are listening to lectures from pediatric orthopedic specialists and then using artificial bones and cadavers in a mock hospital within the BioInnovation Institute’s headquarters in downtown Akron to try out their new knowledge.
If successful, the program could eventually expand to include residents from throughout the country, said Dr. Todd Ritzman, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and director of education for the pediatric orthopedic surgery program at Akron Children’s Hospital.
“Our vision of this is we want to make this bigger,” he said.
Children’s Hospital regularly trains general orthopedic residents from Akron General Medical Center, Summa Health System, the Cleveland Clinic, Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and Affinity Medical Center in Massillon during rotations at the pediatric hospital.
But with the national accrediting body for residency programs limiting the number of hours residents can work in recent years, it’s become more challenging to provide all the experience doctors-in-training need, Ritzman said.
“You certainly can get a foundation from textbooks and things like that, but it’s one of those things where you have to do it to learn it,” he said.
Akron Children’s Hospital is among the original founding partners of the BioInnovation Institute, which formed in 2008 to boost medical-related economic research and development, job creation and education and promote community health initiatives.
Akron General and Summa health systems, the University of Akron and the Northeast Ohio Medical University joined to form the institute, with financial support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and FirstEnergy Corp.
The BioInnovation Institute opened its new $13.3 million headquarters at 47 N. Main St. last year.
The headquarters, located in renovated space within the former Summit County Job & Family Services building, features a cadaver lab and high-tech simulation center that enables health-care providers, students and companies to gain skills or try out new products. The building also houses a prototype lab, an auditorium and other educational spaces.
“We’re able to combine lecture-type teaching strategies and then break-out sessions where the residents will have hands-on skill labs as part of the educational process,” said Dr. Michael Holder, a pediatric emergency medicine physician who heads the institute’s Center for Simulation and Integrated Healthcare Education. “I think that’s what makes this unique.”
The BioInnovation Institute has been trying to expand its geographic reach and seek new ways to generate revenues as it seeks to move toward self-sufficiency.
Primary funding sources have been $20 million in support from 2008 through 2014 from the Knight Foundation and $10 million from FirstEnergy. The five other founding partners also are contributing $9.1 million in cash and $10.9 million of in-kind support through this year.
The institute this year developed a new tiered membership structure for new and existing partners, which allows hospitals, universities and companies to get various levels of access to services and facilities and a potential share of ABIA revenues.
This week’s program at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) is an example of how the institute can use its simulation center and BioSkills Lab to lure doctors, residents, hospitals, students and others in the health-care field who want simulated and hands-on training, Holder said.
The institute also has been offering disaster preparedness training courses to area hospitals since it opened a year ago.
“These are revenue-generating courses,” Holder said. “They will contribute to the sustainability goals for ABIA. But our focus, really, is on delivering education to those who do not have access to it and to also make sure the courses are of high quality.”
Akron Children’s charged participants who preregistered for the event $100 for the two-day course, Ritzman said. The price — which typically would be closer to $1,000 per participant — was kept low through donations from the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Zeigler Endowment and support from several medical device companies.
Total cost for providing the training course, including rental of the BioInnovation Institute’s facilities, was about $40,000, Ritzman said.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.