Congressman on CAMLS: “Tremendously impressive”

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone toured the USF Health Center for Medical Learning and Innovation (CAMLS) April 23 and his comments indicated he was struck by the center’s capacity to help make the Tampa Bay region a leading hub for health innovation and job creation.

“I’ve never seen a facility like this,” said New Jersey congressman Pallone, the top-ranking Democrat on the Health Subcommittee of the Energy & Commerce Committee, which has vast sway over health care and policy.

“There are things happening at CAMLS that are tremendously impressive.”

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L to R: Dr. Harry van Loveren, interim dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine; USF President Judy Genshaft; U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor; USF Rep. Frank Pallone, USF Health CAMLS CEO Dr. Deborah Sutherland; and Dr. Donna Petersen, interim senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the USF College of Public Health

U.S Rep. Kathy Castor, who hosted Pallone’s visit to Tampa, joined the tour led by CAMLS CEO Dr. Deborah Sutherland.  He was also welcomed to CAMLS by USF President Judy Genshaft; Dr. Donna Petersen, interim senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the USF College of Public  Health; and Harry van Loveren, interim dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

USF opened CAMLS in downtown Tampa in March 2012. The 90,000 square-foot facility integrating medical simulation and training, research and advanced medical device development is the world’s largest, freestanding center of its kind.

As one of Tampa Bay’s newest economic engine, CAMLS  has become a magnet for innovative partnerships, business development and international learning and research, serving learners from all 50 states and more than 60 countries in its first year.

“At CAMLS we have the most advanced equipment and technology for training doctors in the latest techniques.  We teach physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, as well as students, to work together across disciplines as a team to do what’s best for the patient,” President Genshaft said.  “It’s all here in Tampa Bay.”

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L to R: Pallone chats with CAMLS CEO Dr. Sutherland and Castor in the center’s hybrid operating room.

“The Tampa Bay area has emerged as one of the health innovation capitals across the United States,” Castor said.  “It’s largely been the University of South Florida that has been a catalyst to make that happen, along with the other great medical research institutes here.

“There’s a lot of change happening in health care right now, and part of the new emphasis is quality of care,” Castor added.  “What we’re able to do here at CAMLS is train the modern health care workforce of tomorrow to be as technologically advanced and skilled as possible, but also to retrain (experienced) doctors, nurses and therapists in all of the new technology.”

Pallone toured five distinct areas under one roof at CAMLS:  the Surgical and Interventional Training Center with surgical skills laboratories, a hybrid operating room, and a trauma operating room;  the Virtual Patient Care Center; the Tampa Bay Research and Innovation Center, the Virtual Pharmacy; and The Education Center, USF’s urban campus with classrooms, an auditorium and conference rooms.

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Dr. Stuart Hart (right), who directs CAMLS Tampa Bay Research and Innovation Center, a one-stop shop for medical device research and development, shows Rep. Pallone the simulated skin created at the facility.

Pallone said he was particularly impressed with the trauma OR, where a battlefield environment similar to one in Afghanistan can be simulated during trauma training, including “the sound of helicopters.”

He also lauded CAMLS hybrid catheterization OR, which allows health care teams to move seamlessly from an interventional procedure to an open surgical procedure, saving critical time.

Finally, Pallone said, he appreciated the competitive advantages offered by the Tampa Bay Research and Innovation Center, CAMLS one-stop shop for medical device development that helps manufacturers expedite moving a device through the entire, rigorous FDA testing cycle required.

“One of the concerns I hear all the time is that the FDA process doesn’t move fast enough,” Pallone said. “If you’re going to be innovative… you have to be able to move quickly when there’s a medical device to be approved.”

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Pallone, USF President Judy Genshaft and Castor spoke to the media following the congressman’s tour of CAMLS.

The House Health Subcommittee on which Pallone and Castor serve has jurisdiction over the regulation of food and drugs, as well as overseeing funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (including Medicare and Medicaid), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

“So many of those issues come together right here at CAMLS,” Castor said.

“We’ll tie all this innovative work at CAMLS and USF back to Washington to try to get some (federal) grants,” Pallone said.

Left unsaid, but understood: Research and training grants that will contribute to improving health care, further drive economic development and create more high-wage jobs.

Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications