KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Indiana First, a region in southern Indiana, received $15 million dollars in READI Grant funds.

The Indiana First region includes the counties of Knox, Pike, Perry, Spencer, and Harrison. Together they were awarded the $15 million dollar READI award for 19 projects in the areas of housing (public infrastructure), economic and workforce development, and quality of life initiatives.

Three of those projects are in Knox County.

Chris Pfaff, CEO of Knox County Economic Development says that out of the $15 million READI award, leaders will be able to leverage $153 million throughout the region.

“Which is really an unprecedented amount for this part of the state,” Pfaff said.

A portion of the READI funds will go to a Nursing Careers Program at Good Samaritan Hospital to double the simulation lab.

“We think this program is going to help attract people from area colleges and universities that have nursing programs,” Pfaff said. “The simulation laboratory will help, we hope, attract more nurses to the area,” he added.

Heidi Hinkle, Director of Professional Practice & Perinatal Service at Good Samaritan Hospital said, “We’re hoping that the simulation lab will be a great space for high school students to come and practice and try out different skills and maybe figure out something they would really be interested in doing for the rest of their lives.”

Looking forward to the expansion Hinkle says they would like to add a procedure room, a surgery-type suite where they can simulate exercises that would occur in that type of hospital environment. Hospital learners also want the opportunity to train individuals as though they are living on a scene outside of the hospital.

“We would like to do one room that is called a full immersion room where we can change the environment of the room just with a projector screen,” Hinkle said. “Make it look and appear as though you’re walking into maybe a motor vehicle accident out in the community or a basketball arena where somebody has just collapsed,” she added.

Hinkle said by expanding the lab they hope to attract and retain more individuals in the healthcare field. As well as meeting the needs of health care professionals pre-hospital, throughout the hospital, and in every discipline in between.

The simulations lab gives healthcare professionals and students a safe and controlled environment to practice their skills away from patients, using high-fidelity mannequins that emulate a real patient.

“If they mess up, we can correct them and they can garner those skills that they need,” Hinkle said. “So, whenever they are in front of the patient, they feel very comfortable with what they are doing,” she added.