NPC respiratory care program secures grant

From left are Paul Lowe, Leslie Huggs, Amy Techert, Mettea Roberts, Amelia Hernandez, Hannah Harvey, seated, Allison Raney, Brandy Rowton, Clinical Director Jennifer Massey, Teiara Gordon, and Destinie Brown. – Submitted photo.
From left are Paul Lowe, Leslie Huggs, Amy Techert, Mettea Roberts, Amelia Hernandez, Hannah Harvey, seated, Allison Raney, Brandy Rowton, Clinical Director Jennifer Massey, Teiara Gordon, and Destinie Brown. – Submitted photo.

National Park College recently received a grant from the Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust, allowing the college to buy a new ventilator for the respiratory care program.

The $36,580 grant was used to purchase a Puritan Bennett 980 Ventilator to train students in the respiratory care program, according to a news release from NPC.

The new ventilator will ensure students are trained with the most up-to-date equipment used in hospitals today, Respiratory Care Program Director Paul Lowe said.

"I learned there was a grant that was being offered, and I was approached by the foundation," he said. "And they said this might be a fit for our program because we were in such desperate need for a new ventilator, and they're real expensive."

While the college already had two older generations of the ventilator, having another one will benefit the program by giving students more time to train with the ventilators as well as experience with a newer version of the equipment more like what the hospitals are equipped with, Lowe said.

"It is going to help our students," he said. "It's like we try to teach them how to run a ventilator and all the things that you can do with it, and it's real important to stay up with the technology. You know, for me to be able to train them to be able to go into ICUs and to work that ventilator, they need to practice on the latest and greatest technology. They need to put their hands on it. And so, this new ventilator, it's the latest up-to-date piece of equipment."

The Puritan Bennett 980 ventilator is "more precise, as far as measuring volumes and pressures and flows ... " he said. "When (patients are) breathing on the ventilator, we will be able to use the graphics, the new technical graphics to be able to provide the best volumes, pressures, flows that they need to make it as natural as possible for them to be able to breathe on that machine."

The students in the respiratory care program will begin working with the ventilator in the spring semester, Lowe said.

Although the respiratory field was hit hard when the pandemic first began, with about 20 students signed up for the upcoming program, there are now more students enrolled in the program at NPC than before the pandemic, he said.

"I say (respiratory care) is the best-kept secret in medicine," he said. "Everybody knows what a nurse is. There's TV shows about EMTs and X-rays (have) been around for a very long time. But, I spend a lot of time just educating high school students and college students what a respiratory therapist is. And so, COVID actually -- I mean, if you wanna come up with anything that possibly could be positive about it, was that it highlighted respiratory therapy.

"Of course, we don't have the numbers like nursing and everything has where there's 100 or 150 (students), but for respiratory -- And there are shortages because they have great job satisfaction, so they stay at their job, and they're all retirement age. And that's where you're starting to get shortages because so many are retiring from their profession."

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