Conestoga College Supporting Hospitals: Donating Beds, Ventilators, Equipment
Supporting local hospitals in the fight against COVID-19
Conestoga's campuses have been uncharacteristically quiet for the last two weeks as members of the college community teach, learn and work from home in adherence with Public Health guidelines aimed at arresting the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
But there’s been a bevy of activity at the college’s Doon campus in Kitchener in recent days as equipment and supplies are gathered and prepared for delivery to local hospitals to help protect the health and safety of the broader community.
“These are extraordinary times, and we all need to step up and contribute to the greater good,” said President John Tibbits. “Sharing our resources to protect front-line workers and provide additional capacity for hospitals in this time of crisis is one of the ways that Conestoga is making a difference in the fight against this global pandemic.”
Equipment and supplies from the college are helping protect the health and safety of the broader community.
In addition to providing urgently needed N95 masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment, the college is also sharing ventilators, hospital and long-term care beds, stretchers, mattresses and a variety of care equipment that would otherwise be used to help students build the hands-on skills required for success in their future careers as health professionals.
The total value of the equipment and supplies provided by the college is estimated at approximately $2M.
A provincial distribution system has been developed to deploy ventilators to areas of most urgent need. The rest of the supplies will be shared among local hospitals, including Grand River and St. Mary’s in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge Memorial and Guelph General.
Ayr-based company Stage Door Transportation has volunteered to provide the trucks, drivers and movers required to transport all the equipment and supplies to their destinations within the next few days.
“It’s quite wonderful to see the community coming together in this effort,” said Veronique Boscart, Executive Dean of Conestoga’s School of Health & Life Sciences. “It’s in times like this we really need to support each other.”
Conestoga’s School of Health & Life Sciences is a leader in innovative education, workforce development and applied research to meet community needs. With a broad range of programming, from pre-health through to certificates, diplomas, graduate certificates and degrees in health-related fields, the school provides education and training to approximately 2,300 full-time students each year and delivers in-service and continuing education to support the ongoing skills development of current health-care professionals.
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Answering the call: Conestoga contributes life-saving ventilators to Ontario's fight against COVID-19
Conestoga is making the college’s fleet of adult, neonatal and paediatric ventilators, high flow oxygen units, video intubation and video bronchoscopy equipment and anaesthetic gas machines available for the province to deploy to Ontario hospitals.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its devastating global advance, with almost 640,000 confirmed cases and more than 30,000 deaths across 203 countries reported by the World Health Organization on March 30, health authorities everywhere are trying to find ways to access more ventilators and related respiratory support equipment to meet the needs of critically ill patients.
Ventilators are essential in assisting or replacing breathing functions for those with severe respiratory conditions, pumping oxygen into the bloodstream to keep organs functioning. Critical shortages of equipment and the qualified professionals required to use it have forced doctors in countries such as Italy and Spain to make grim life-or-death choices in allocating scarce resources in the face of overwhelming demand.
In Ontario, hospitals and governments are working to bolster their inventory of life-saving medical devices to address potential demands in the event that COVID-19 cases spike here as well.
Conestoga is answering the call, making the college’s fleet of adult, neonatal and paediatric ventilators, high flow oxygen units, video intubation and video bronchoscopy equipment and anaesthetic gas machines available for the province to deploy to whichever Ontario hospitals have the most acute need.
“During these difficult times, it’s clear that our health system will be stretched, and the need for critical care equipment will be greater than ever,” said Pam Hall, coordinator of Conestoga’s Respiratory Therapy program. “We’re happy to be able to make this contribution in support of patient care.”
The donated equipment is normally used by students in the Respiratory Therapy program as they develop hands-on skills for their future careers as critical care providers. In-person classes and labs are currently suspended across the college’s network of campuses in adherence with Public Health guidelines aimed at arresting the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The field of respiratory therapy has been thrust into the spotlight as a result of the global pandemic. These highly trained specialists are skilled in respiratory assessment, oxygen therapy, airway management and mechanical ventilation, essential skills for managing the sickest COVID-19 patients.
“We have never needed our Respiratory Therapists more than we do today,” Hall said. “Their knowledge of the science of mechanical ventilation is at the highest level. They are the people at the head of the bed, they are placing endotracheal tubes in patient’s airways and initiating and managing mechanical ventilation for those that can no longer breathe for themselves.”
Canada currently has approximately 12,000 practicing respiratory therapists. Hall predicts that their skills and knowledge will be desperately needed in the weeks and months ahead.
Approximately 100 students are currently enrolled in Conestoga’s Respiratory Therapy program, a nationally accredited program designed to satisfy the educational requirements for registration as a Registered Respiratory Therapist based on the National Competency Framework for Respiratory Therapy.
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