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University of the Virgin Islands’ Medical Simulation Center shaping up to be an innovative staple in the USVI and the Caribbean region


CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands – March 1, 2022 – Described as the crown jewel of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), contractors, project managers and representatives from the University of the Virgin Islands and the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) toured the first and only medical simulation center in the United States Virgin Islands – the UVI Medical Simulation Center – on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. This medical simulation center will be located on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, USVI, and is funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through a federal grant.

The UVI Medical Simulation Center will provide a state-of-the-art immersive medical simulation experience and high-quality medical education that will propel healthcare in the Territory to the next level. The University of the Virgin Islands, a leader in higher education, sees the value in forward thinking and has embraced the reality of our technologic age by finding new ways to deliver medical education and training in a manner that is on par with our partners in the contiguous United States.  

Individuals participating in the tour were Feliz Navarro, Site Superintendent, Eleven Construction; Haldane Davies, Ph.D., Vice President for Business Development and Innovation and Secretary to the Board for the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority; Phil Langley, VP of Construction, Eleven Construction; VIEDA CEO Wayne L. Biggs, Jr.; Elisa Sanchez, Project Manager (EJS Project Management); Charlene Navarro, RN, Director of the Medical Simulation Center; and Shanell Petersen, VIEDA Managing Director, Marketing and 2040 Vision. During the tour, Mr. Langley provided updates on the facility’s construction, Ms. Navarro described the use of the facility and potential for investment and training, and Dr. Davies and CEO Biggs emphasized the connection between the simulation center and economic development.

“In addition to this project being a strategic benefit for the U.S. Virgin Islands in medical simulation and training, it’s also an opportunity that contributes to our Territory’s economic development, diversification and sustainability,” said Dr. Haldane Davies, Ph.D., Vice President for Business Development and Innovation and Secretary to the Board for the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority.  “This is an economic development project with the potential to favorably impact the lives of residents and visitors alike. With the creation of new employment opportunities in the medical simulation field using high-tech equipment, the facility will also provide meeting spaces for conferences and lectures, simulated medical and surgical training rooms, and briefing rooms, among others. It will also serve as a venue for medical device manufacturers to introduce new advances in medical technology to medical and health professionals from around world to visit our shores for continuing medical education and other business investment opportunities,” added Dr. Davies.

The one-story 21,920 square foot center will consist of administrative, public and simulation spaces. The simulation areas will feature two surgical skills labs, three inpatient simulation rooms, one birthing simulation room, four outpatient exam rooms, a virtual reality surgical skill suite, a nursing skills training room, an immersive simulation room, one simulation operating room complete with medical gases, a surgical instrument processing area and a live-tissue storage cooler. The public spaces will feature an 86-person capacity lecture hall, conference space, a dining room with catering kitchen and administrative offices. The public spaces will be available for use by the community for a fee while the simulation spaces remain secured offering another opportunity for revenue generation. 

In times of disaster, the center can be used as a non-trauma medical facility and as Command post for disaster training. The center will begin operations with a small staff of simulation professionals – with plans to increase staff – as the medical simulation center grows. There are plans to utilize renewable energy to help power the facility.

Supply chain delays has slowed down construction of the center and postponed its 2021 opening; however, UVI representatives anticipate that construction of the simulation center will be completed by the end of April 2022.

The existence of the UVI Medical Simulation Center in the Territory will also attract global healthcare organizations and high-tech and biomedical firms to the Territory as a place to provide training and to conduct research. With the USVI set as a destination location for providing innovative and quality training, it is anticipated that conference attendees and corporate executives will travel to the Territory and infuse the economy by filling local hotels, dining at restaurants, and patronizing shops and other establishments. VIEDA CEO Wayne L. Biggs, Jr., also weighed in with his insights about the simulation center’s potential and impact on the USVI.

“The UVI Simulation Center is truly an exceptional part of our Territory’s infrastructure. It most definitely reflects the true level of the USVI’s thought process regarding innovation and advancement for the future of our Territory and the well-being of its residents and visitors,” said VIEDA CEO Biggs, Jr.  “The VIEDA team and I congratulate UVI and its partners for such an amazing center and we look forward to what this center will offer medically as well as in educational advancement and economic development,” added CEO Biggs, Jr.

In addition to the benefits to healthcare in the Territory, the simulation center may attract biomedical and technology-based companies into the Territory which will improve STEM program opportunities for our youth. There are even prospects for theater and special effects artists through our use of standardized patients and the application of moulage makeup during our immersive simulation training experiences.

The idea for building a medical simulation center developed in 2014 with the assistance and support of the University of South Florida’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS). The building was designed by Springline/Beck Architects with collaborative expert advice from CAMLS on room functions and equipment.

“The UVI Medical Simulation Center will be the only medical education and simulation training center operating in the United States Virgin Islands. We are making history! Not only will the medical simulation center be the only one of its kind in the VI, but it will also be a part of UVI’s commitment to workforce development and training in the Territory. These two milestones have major implications for the future of healthcare in the Territory. I am excited and humbled to have been entrusted with what can only be described as the crowned jewel of the University of the Virgin Islands,” said Charlene Navarro, RN, Director of the UVI Medical Simulation Center.

Research has proven the merits and benefits of medical simulation. Medical simulation is an educational methodology that leads to increased patient safety; better patient outcomes; and improved resource and liability management. Financial loss that is often associated with inconsistent staff training and timely assessments can be mitigated through regular training. Government agencies, hospitals, first responders and private healthcare professionals in the Territory will benefit from the removal of the physical barriers presented by our geographic location in the Caribbean.

Through the use of distance learning and telemedicine capabilities, the UVI Medical Simulation Center will link local residents and healthcare professionals to global medical experts and resources without leaving the VI. The medical community as a whole, will benefit from timely exposure to the latest evidence-based research and a place to practice new skills in a safe environment.


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