Hartnell College is directly contributing to COVID-19 treatment and other patient care through a loan of 13 ventilators from its respiratory care program; the donation of such critical supplies as masks, gowns and gloves; and the participation of 88 Hartnell registered nursing students at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital.
Since the week before last, the college has loaned ventilators to SVMH, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Natividad Medical Center, said Debra Kaczmar, dean of academic affairs, nursing and allied health at Hartnell. All the ventilators are in good working order, and one was brand new, still in the box.
There also is the prospect for students in the college’s respiratory care, nursing and emergency medical technician programs to be recruited as part of California’s Health Corps group being organized to supplement shorthanded health care staffs across the state. That effort was announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 30.
Kaczmar said the pressing demand for registered nursing help in non-COVID roles at SVMH will fulfill remaining clinical requirements for 2020 RN graduates and enable other students to continue their hands-on learning, despite COVID-19’s impact on classroom simulation. The students are at the hospital on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“We’re incredibly fortunate, because many schools don’t have that, and their students have been displaced,” she said.
Vocational nursing students have been less fortunate, Kaczmar said, because local skilled-nursing facilities have restricted opportunities for them to accumulate patient-care hours at this time. Respiratory care students also have been displaced from clinical postings, but the program’s upcoming graduates already have sufficient experience to begin working, she said, and several have job waiting at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose.
Many of the RN and respiratory students, in particular, expressed a determination to contribute during the pandemic, Kaczmar said.
“It’s like, ‘Yes, this is what I want.’ ‘This is what I should be doing.’ ‘What can I do to help?’ and so on,” she said.