Mayor de Blasio Visits Lehman’s Nursing Lab

Mayor de Blasio spoke with a Lehman nursing student.

She moans. She coughs. She wretches. She pukes.

Meet Marcia, D.O.B. 11-20-1946, bedridden and nauseated. Please wish her a happy birthday: She turned 68 yesterday. Today she’s female, but could be male tomorrow.

By definition, Marcia can’t be put into human terms. She is literally a mannequin, one of the eight dummies costing as much as $65,000 inside the Lehman College’s Nursing Simulation Lab, where on Friday Mayor Bill de Blasio audited Nursing 301: Therapeutic Intervention 1.

For about eight minutes, de Blasio stood with 10 of Instructor Christiana Vandy-Jonjo’s first-year students as they practiced diagnosing ailments by listening to heart, lung and bowel “sounds.”  Marcia, who aurally simulates various symptoms, lay prone in the hospital-like ward, her mouth agape. Yellow curtains surrounded each “patient” area. The room was identical to a real medical facility in almost every way: IV drips, aseptic hand-washing sinks, stethoscopes, feeding tubes, blood-pressure cuffs, that hospital smell, etc. It’s here where, every year, between 300 and 400 students practice a wide array of medical skills on lifelike mannequins such as Marcia.

It’s “exactly the kind of training program we’re expanding,” mayoral spokesman Wiley Norvell said later of Lehman College’s nursing and medical assistant programs​. Which is why the Mayor was on campus: to announce a sweeping overhaul of workforce development programs to better train New Yorkers for quality jobs like nursing and medial assistant in fast growing job sectors like healthcare—

Today, as Patient Marcia took a rest from groaning and vomiting, Hizzoner pointed around the gurney, asking each of the nine female and one male students about their training, careers and schooling.

“It’s near my house, so that works,” one of the soon-to-be R.N.s said. “I definitely want to help people.”

Another student said she felt that nursing offered a close relationship with patients.

“You are part of the people’s lives. You know better than the doctor. You spend time with them more,” the student said.

In an exchange with another student, the mayor said: “Talk to me about it as a career. Do you think it will be a good economic choice for you? Do you think it will provide for your family?”

Yes, the student said: “Most definitely. It’s a very respectable career. I can be a role model for my child. And you’re able to provide for your family because you’re earning a pretty handsome salary.”

At one point, the mayor said: “Obviously, everyone is motivated to help people, but do you also feel like this is the kind of thing that you can stick with, and it gives you economic stability and helps you take care of your family?” the mayor asked.

“Yes,” several of the students said.

The mayor joked with a young student, Chidly Alexandre, over her haircut: curly locks pulled tight.

“Do you need to have an impressive hairdo to be a nurse?” he asked a blushing Alexandre. “Or does it just help?”

“The patient might want to try my hairstyle,” Alexandre told de Blasio. “You never know.”

“A conversation starter!” de Blasio declared.

The students’ clinical practice began soon after 11 a.m., without the mayor. The students first thoroughly washed their hands, scrubbed their nails, gloved up, greeted Marcia and heard instructions from their instructor, who controlled the dummy using a handheld console.

So rapt were the students by their studies that they hadn’t noticed that the 6-foot-5-plus mayor had walked in.

​”Folks, this is the mayor!” said Dr. Catherine Alicia Georges, an R.N. and Ph.D. who is the Lehman nursing department chairwoman.

Georges explained what was going on: the students graduating in 2016 were practicing on a life-size medical mannequin — technically an HPS, or Human Patient Simulators.

Marcia the Medical Mannequin was apparently named in honor of Marcia Brown, the chief college laboratory technician.

Brown explained that the mannequins are medically versatile and androgynous, depending on the class’s pedagogical needs. “We remove the vital parts and exchange it out,” Brown said before the mayor arrived.

— From pool reporting by Matthew Chayes, Newsday