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Olympus opens medical training facility for employees, partners in Americas

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Photo by Eric Steinkopff
Photo by Eric Steinkopff

Olympus Corp. of the Americas showcased its products and strengthened its connection with partners last week when it opened a three-room, high-tech medical training facility at its corporate headquarters in Center Valley.

The Medical Learning Center, with cutting-edge medical technology, will be used to train Olympus employees and distributer partners from across North and South America, according to Michael S. Levey, director of public relations and communications for Olympus Corporation of the Americas. Olympus designs and delivers medical and surgical solutions, life science imaging systems, industrial measurement and imaging instruments, cameras and audio products.

“We’re very excited and very much looking forward to this,” said Tracey Sanford, vice president of education services at Olympus. “This is an opportunity to really blend our training, both the technical side of products as well as the application to make a difference – both for patient diagnosis and for treatment.”

Inside the center there are nearly a dozen computer towers with cables attached to tiny cameras to be inserted into a simulated patient’s body and displayed on large computer screens for health care equipment training.

The cameras can be intricately manipulated for different procedures that include endobronchial ultrasound, bronchoscopy, laparoscopy, uroscopy and colonoscopy.

According to Sanford, these are all strategies that fall in line with “the new health care environment” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.

“Our entire product line is showcased,” Sanford said. “We have our imaging towers for general surgery, urology and gynecology, our ENT [ear, nose, throat] platform, our GI [gastrointestinal] and endotherapy, which is really a large part of our business, and certainly our laparoscopy – to diagnose treatment as well.”

There also is a classroom in which students can sit and watch the images projected on a pair of wall-sized screens at the front of the room.

According to Sanford, the MLC staff could train about 500 to 600 people a year for Olympus and partner organizations.

“The majority of our training will be sales, because that’s a large part of our [focus], but we are also training our technical support team – our field teams and our trouble-shooting [team] for our technical support line,” Sanford said. “In terms of outside organizations, we’re just ramping up to do that. But that’s part of our strategy.”

They anticipate that between 150 to 200 physicians and surgeons could visit for training-type events in 2013, and those numbers could grow in future years, Sanford said.

Although precise numbers of future visiting students are not yet available, there are plans to continue working with the local Communities In Schools program to bring children interested in science, technology, engineering and math through the facility on tours and career days to help them consider working in the health care field.

“For every one dollar investment, there is an $11.60 return on investment,” said Tim Mulligan, CIS executive director of efforts to reduce dropout rates at area schools.

The MLC is a renovated showroom turned training environment that represents a significant financial investment to the local community through partnerships with several local vendors that include Multi-Tech Construction, Defender Electrical, Vistacom and Signs By Tomorrow in Allentown, Levey said.

“This actually really increases the functionality of space we’ve had in the past and allows us to make much better use of our space,” Sanford said.

This technology is “not just for showcase, but for practical training purposes. There is a lot of hands-on, interactive training. They can’t just learn from a PowerPoint presentation [but by] doing and using the device,” she said.

According to Luke Calcraft, president of the medical systems group, there are about 3,000 employees working for Olympus Corp. of the Americas. There are about 1,000 of them working out of the Olympus facility in Center Valley, Levey said.

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