SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) - New upgrades at the Health Occupations Center are allowing students in the medical fields to continue their hands-on training during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
"These students can't go do clinicals in a hospital like they used to be able to," says Barry Jantz, the CEO of the Grossmont Healthcare District. "So it's even more important that we've got these kinds of abilities and facilities for students to train."
Thanks to a bond passed by the voters, and a $100,000 grant from the Grossmont Healthcare District, the HOC recently finished construction on two state-of-the-art classroom and lab buildings. They also bought new, life-like mannequins and an ambulance simulator.
"It's very realistic," says Nursing Student Nyna Huynh. "Everything we do, from the pulses to listening to the breathing sounds, it's very realistic to what we'd come encounter in a clinical, a real situation."
"It's an environment to make mistakes without harming the patient," says fellow student Deanne Murray. "We get to see a lot of things and see how situations can pan out. So it's a safe environment."
The HOC also made several changes to make sure their students learn in a safe environment. All theory classes have moved online, and in-person labs are restricted to just a few students at a time. The new buildings also have touchless sinks and hand sanitizer stations.
Like all schools in San Diego County, the HOC shut down in March at the start of the Pandemic. But, since the need for healthcare workers rose as the virus spread, they worked with County Health Officials to get special permission to resume classes. 288 students went back to class in June to finish the spring semester. This fall, a record of 455 students enrolled.
"There's fulfillment for them," says HOC Director Heather Peterson. "They're able to not only help immediately in this pandemic situation, but they really are part of a field where the labor market needs are immense."
A majority of the new students were left unemployed by the Coronavirus. This new technology and in-person learning can help them find a new job in just one semester.
Training new healthcare employees is vital, and not just because of the Pandemic. The US Department of Labor says demand for healthcare workers will increase by 23% between 2016 and 2026.
"People have lost jobs, and maybe this is a tremendous opportunity and time for them to go get some training they always thought about. That's important," says Jantz.
For more information about the programs available at the Health Occupations Center, click here.