Tuesday, April 26, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ruthe and Nathanial Leek helped create some of Mayo Clinic in Florida's most life-affirming places and programs, including the family birth center at Mayo's former hospital in Jacksonville, the Leek Gallery at the San Pablo Road campus and the Mayo Clinic Humanities in Medicine Program. Now, the couple's estate is continuing that tradition, providing $1.7 million for a simulation center that will benefit present and future generations by enhancing the quality, safety and affordability of patient care.
Recent advancements in technology; changes in medical equipment, most notably the advent of robotic surgery; and continuing innovations in medical education have combined to make simulation training more practical and especially effective. Simulation encompasses a variety of approaches, from trainers that allow surgeons to practice fundamentals and master new techniques, to life-size operating rooms where medical teams can practice almost any imaginable scenario, using mannequins that can realistically simulate a host of conditions as well as "respond" to treatments.
"The age of simulation training is here, and studies every day are demonstrating its enormous potential for improving the quality and safety of patient care, as well as its utility for innovation," says William Rupp, M.D., chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic in Florida. "We are excited to pursue this new addition for our patients. We are especially grateful for the support of the Leek family and other benefactors because we need philanthropy to make this center a reality."
Mayo Clinic has a $15 million fundraising goal to support the center's construction and operation. The center will be part of a two-story addition to the Vincent A. Stabile Administration Building and initially occupy 8,000 square feet. The space will include a designated area for task trainers, an operating room, intensive care unit, classroom/conference space and extensive audiovisual equipment so that training scenarios can be recorded and reviewed. It will also link with Mayo Clinic's simulation centers in Rochester, Minn., and Phoenix, creating one of the largest multidisciplinary simulation centers in the nation. Construction on the building addition and the center will take about 18 months, and Mayo Clinic hopes to begin construction before the end of this year, pending additional philanthropic support.
"Mayo's simulation training will be distinctive because of the center's ability to support the training of multidisciplinary teams," says David Thiel, M.D., a urologist who specializes in robotic surgery and is the center's medical director. "That supports the Mayo Clinic Model of Care and our role as a leader in medical education. But we also believe it will make the center attractive to other groups, especially continuing medical education programs. In fact, many specialty boards are now requiring simulation hours as a prerequisite for certification and recertification."
The Leeks' support for the simulation center mirrors a theme of innovation that they exhibited in their own lives. Nathanial Leek, who passed away at the age of 100 in 1998, was a highly successful patent attorney. Ruthe Leek, who passed away in 2010 at age 105, ran a successful apparel store in Jacksonville for more than two decades. Both were longtime patients of Mayo Clinic.
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