The Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) has stepped in to assist students enrolled in the Clark State Community College Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program to remain safe while completing labs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clark State facility partners where students complete clinicals have asked that students provide their own personal protective equipment (PPE), including fit-tested N95 masks.
“Fit-testing for these masks requires specialized equipment, and the masks are costly,” said Dr. Rhoda Sommers, dean of Health, Human & Public Services at Clark State. “The Combined Health District is donating N95 masks and face shields and using their equipment to conduct the fit-testing so our students can do their clinical rotations without incurring additional expenses.”
Michael Cogdill, EMS program coordinator at Clark State, said this donation of N95 masks ensures the masks are a good fit for the individual wearing them, as opposed to just issuing a mask that doesn't fit quite as it should.
“While clinical facilities were beginning to open up, we were receiving information that some clinical sites would require students to not only have PPE, but also that the N95 be fit-tested to ensure and maximize its design,” he said. “Currently, we do not have the equipment within the EMS program to fit-test for N95 masks as this has typically not been a need as it is during the pandemic.”
Cogdill began researching costs and availability of PPE and N95 masks and discovered that costs were rising, and availability was falling. Neither of which were good as our students have time frames for getting clinical rotations completed.
“I decided to reach out to the CCCHD and spoke with Michelle Pitstick. She was wonderful from the start and shared their support of the fact that these students are our future first responders, and we need to provide them with this opportunity to succeed,” said Cogdill. “She then added that not only were they willing to donate 100 N95 masks and 100 face shields, but they would fit-test them as well.”
Codgill said the EMS program at Clark State is both thrilled and extremely grateful to the CCCHD for offering to be a vital part in ensuring student success.
“There was no hesitation at all when I contacted Michelle Pitstick at the CCCHD and expressed our concerns regarding the scheduling of students at clinical sites,” said Cogdill. “Student safety, as well as student success, are priorities at Clark State. This displayed great teamwork ensuring our students will be able to safely meet their objectives.”
Sommers said she, too, is grateful to the CCCHD for their generous donation of N95 masks to EMS students and for their willingness to use their equipment to fit-test these masks for each individual student.
“We want our EMS students to be safe while doing their clinical rotations but purchasing N95 masks ourselves or asking our students to purchase them is cost-prohibitive,” she said. “CCCHD is making it possible for our students to complete their program during the COVID-19 pandemic and allowing them to become employed more quickly and serve in our communities.”