Respiratory care program loans out ventilators as students are eager to join the battle against COVID-19
March 26, 2020
The MSU Texas Respiratory program had the privilege of receiving new equipment when Centennial Hall finished construction in Fall 2019. Concerned that this new equipment, including two new ventilators, was “sitting idle” in its department, Provost James Johnston and Respiratory Program Chair Jennifer Anderson contacted United Regional officials to offer ventilators and personal protective equipment.
“I was thinking about it for our department [respiratory care] when we couldn’t have classes anymore. We already have these ventilators that we wouldn’t be using and they would be helpful for the hospital so that they could use them if there was a need,” Anderson said.
The respiratory care program also donated N95 masks, surgical masks, isolation gowns and bacterial filters to assist the local health care facility.
Earlier this week Gov. Greg Abbott announced that nursing students who had completed 50% of their simulation studies were granted the opportunity to go into the field and assist with the COVID-19 crisis, despite not taking the exiting exams. Left out, however, were respiratory seniors.
“As respiratory therapists, we are usually the ones controlling the ventilators,” Tanairi Gonzalez, respiratory senior, said. “There is a big need for us because we are a lot less of a population versus nurses. We were wanting to see if the Governor (Greg Abbott) would allow us to participate because essentially we can help with what is going on in the ICU’s just as much as the nurses could do.”
While respiratory therapy majors are feeling left out, the 14 seniors in the program are 100% all-in.
“We want in, put us in; we will go in coach. Unfortunately, they’re saying we can only do so much right now until something gets passed. We can’t do anything so we want them to hear our voices and let us in and let us help the crisis,” Gonzalez said. “This is what you are called to do. It’s the same as if you were a soldier when the time comes, we all need to arise to the situation.”
Behind the scenes, Anderson has been pushing for Gov. Abbott to grant an executive order for respiratory therapy students to begin working for hospitals with COVID-19 patients by sending a letter to the Governor himself.
“I, myself, am a member of the Texas Society of Respiratory Care, and we have been advocating that he [Gov. Greg Abbott] allow respiratory therapists to do the same,” Anderson said.
Gonzalez understands that working with a COVID-19 patient comes with risks, however, she is willing to do anything to help relieve the pressure off of nurses.
“I have kids and my husband is a little bit drawn back on the situation of me going to work. As a health care worker, this is what you signed up for,” Gonzalez said. “We can do our part, coming to relieve some time for nurses who need to rest, cleaning equipment, gathering supplies or going out to the community and gathering supplies. There are many other things we can do to be on the front lines and help with those situations.”
Anderson is proud of the work MSU Texas respiratory therapy graduates are doing and encourages them to continue fighting in this pandemic.
“The respiratory care department is really proud of all the respiratory therapy graduates [from MSU Texas],” Anderson said. “They are working on the frontlines battling the Coronavirus every day. We are just so proud of them and this was something that we can do to help them and also help the community.
Eager to get out and be on the frontlines, Gonzalez believes that if the respiratory seniors “can help by doing something, then it’s better than doing nothing.”