SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College’s respiratory care program is lending its five ventilators to area hospitals preparing for a surge in patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Christopher Scott, dean of the School of Health and Patient Simulation, said STCC is prepared to donate or lend any equipment hospitals need during the coronavirus emergency. The school recently donated all of its personal protective equipment to area hospitals, medical centers, and first responders.
STCC is lending its ventilators to Baystate Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center, both in Springfield, and to Holyoke Medical Center.
“We knew that hospitals are preparing for an influx of patients and will need ventilators,” Scott said. “We work closely with Baystate, Mercy, and Holyoke on a regular basis. We are grateful for all their support over the years, so we are happy to let them use whatever equipment we have to help their patients.”
Scott said STCC respiratory care students have trained on the ventilators, which are the same type the hospitals use. “Our semester is winding down, and we feel these vents can be put to better use on the front lines in hospitals.”
Ventilators are used by some patients infected with COVID-19 who have breathing problems. The breathing devices have been in demand since the start of the pandemic. Ventilators are one of the tools used to help some COVID-19 patients.
The coronavirus crisis has put a spotlight on the profession of respiratory care. In addition to helping patients with COVID-19, respiratory therapists treat people suffering from a range of chronic respiratory diseases, including asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, and chronic bronchitis.
The two-year associate degree program at STCC trains students in the treatment, management, diagnosis, and care of patients with diseases related to the heart and lungs. Training includes the use of therapeutic gases, ventilator support, breathing exercises, aerosol administration, medications, humidification, and maintenance of airways. Graduates of the program can transfer to a four-year college or university to continue their education or begin working at a hospital or other healthcare facility.
Over the last several weeks, several STCC respiratory care students applied for limited-permit licenses to work at area hospitals and help meet the demand to help patients.