VOL. 133 | NO. 158 | Friday, August 10, 2018
By Michael Waddell
More medical professionals and students across the U.S. and Canada will have the chance to learn the latest technologies, devices and surgical procedures thanks to a new mobile bioskills lab that hit the streets in recent weeks. The lab is the first owned by the Medical Education and Research Institute (MERI), which has managed similar mobile labs through medical device companies like Medtronic for the past 20 years.
Jason Owens, executive director of Medical Education and Research Institute (MERI), which recently launched a Mobile Bioskills Lab, a 560-square-foot mobile trailer that can bring services conveniently to medical professionals across the U.S. and Canada. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)
“We just want to be able to offer to our sponsors another educational platform to teach and educate their students and their learners,” said MERI executive director Jason Owens. “This was a great opportunity for us to enter into. The week after we finished the project, we had it booked for an event in Oklahoma.”
Medical device maker Teleflex was the first to book the 560-square-foot Mobile Bioskills Lab (MBL), which can be used for hands-on training as well as lecture sessions.
“With the ever-changing world of offsite laboratory programs, this asset offers another option to meet my internal and external customer’s needs,” said Jim Blosser, Teleflex Laboratory Manager, Clinical Affairs.
Total cost for the vehicle, renovations and improvements was near $700,000, and the lab boasts the same quality equipment found at MERI headquarters in
Memphis’ Medical District, like surgical tables and lights, C-arms, Stryker power, surgical instruments, Bovie, suction, PPE and more.
“For MERI, it’s a significant investment, but we think it’s one that will assist our sponsors in reaching more students,” Owens said. “Some of technologies that we have in terms of audio/visual are more advanced than that of the units that we’ve worked with in the past.”
Three slide-outs sections include two that are part of the main lab space and one for the conference room.
“The conference space is multipurpose in that it can be used for educational training, task trainers [lifelike models of body parts], etc.,” Owens said.
The 53-foot vehicle weighs 75,000 pounds and can generate its own power. A chase vehicle follows the truck on its cross-country treks, carrying many necessary supplies like surgical tables, lights and drills and other instruments.
“When we designed the unit, we wanted it to be very modular in terms of being able to be utilized by various medical device organizations, universities, hospitals. So it’s not designed for one type of specialty; it’s designed to assist in any kind of area,” explained Owens. “That’s how the MERI is designed as well.”
He cites one example of using the new lab in the parking lot of a hospital so medical students could come directly to the truck for educational opportunities.
“It’s just really convenient for the learner,” said Owens.
MERI staff provides all the necessary transportation and on-site set-up, lab support and clean-up.
If all goes well, more labs of this type could be in the MERI’s future.
“We’re already in discussion with a couple of vendors about potentially building some more units,” said Owens. “We think it’s a great platform for reaching students who otherwise couldn’t be reached.”
The new lab is part of MERI’s extensive rebranding efforts this year, which also included a new website and signage. As a non-profit educational bioskills lab and service provider, MERI offers education and research in all specialties of medicine, providing students with the environment necessary for developing, testing, and refining minimally invasive procedures, the latest medical devices, and skilled responses to emergency situations.
MERI also operates its growing willed Genesis Legacy Whole Body Donation program, which received 855 donors last year.