HOLYOKE — Students enrolled in health science programs at Holyoke Community College (HCC) will benefit from a $230,068 state grant for the purchase of telehealth equipment and other cutting-edge medical training technology at the college’s center for Health Education & Simulation.
HCC will use some of those funds, awarded through the Executive Office of Education’s Skills Capital Grants program, to buy autoclaves, microscopes, vital-signs monitors, IV simulators, sutures, dressing materials, and other items that will allow the college to enhance and expand its medical assistant program.
“The demand is growing,” said Clare Lamontagne, HCC’s dean of Health Sciences. “If you look on employment sites, they’re all hiring medical assistants. We would conceivably like to double our enrollment.”
Students who complete HCC’s one-year medical assistant certificate program are then eligible to take the national certification exam, which, if passed, qualifies them to work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and clinics or for other healthcare organizations.
The majority of the grant, about $141,000, will be used to purchase three state-of-the-art medical simulators — a birthing simulator, a pediatric simulator, and a tracheostomy simulator. Simulators are programmable, high-tech mannequins that students in health science programs, such as nursing, can examine, talk to, and treat as if they were real-life patients.
The third chunk of the grant will be applied toward the purchase of telehealth equipment. Telehealth is expanding area of healthcare that allows for remote consultations and treatment. The device HCC is buying is a computer on a cart that has videoconferencing capabilities and medical-assessment instruments attached, such as a stethoscope, otoscope, and ophthalmoscope.
Lamontagne said the telehealth equipment will also enable HCC to offer collaborative teaching exercises and expand its partnerships with other area colleges, such as Bay Path University.