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Missoula College health students lend a hand in COVID-19 crisis

Missoula College
Posted at 7:28 AM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 16:16:01-04

MISSOULA — Missoula College is responding as the healthcare system prepares for an influx of coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.

Hospitals around the country are in desperate need of supplies, and as many prepare to reach capacity, they’re calling for all hands on deck.

Answering that call are students and staff right here at Missoula College.

“We've really never been pressed with such an urgent situation as we are now, so it's really asked us to do some out-of-the-box thinking," Health Professions Department Chair Dan Funsch said,

According to Funsch, programs have rearranged schedules for classes and clinicals, driving students into the area workforce as quickly as possible.

In conjunction with other programs across the state, Missoula College has worked with the Montana Board of Nursing to modify some of the board's rules.

“One of the things they've done is rolled back the requirement for clinical experience, and they're allowing programs to use a little bit more simulation instead of direct patient contact experiences,” said Funsch.

The board has also extended temporary licensing for nursing students.

From radiology and surgical technology, to respiratory care and medical assisting, students across the board are stepping up to the plate and entering the workforce, but that’s not the only way Missoula College is lending a hand.

“There are a few small ways that we can offer some material help. We have a surgical tech program that's been able to donate back 1,000 pieces of protective equipment that frontline health care workers can use to protect themselves against the infection as they're caring for patients," Funsch noted.

The college has also offered its four ventilators to area facilities, and in the event Missoula County's hospitals can't accommodate the number of coronavirus patients, Missoula College is also offering their space for potential overflow.

“We're really kind of leaving no stone unturned and trying to see what we can do to get creative and be part of the solution here,” said Funsch.