As the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm Oklahoma's already strapped health care system, one state agency received a gift that will help it train even more nursing students during this critical time.
Oklahoma CareerTech received 49 hospital beds from the Emergency Medical Services Authority. With an estimated value of $2,5000-5,000 per bed, EMSA's gift was a game changer for health careers education. EMSA and CareerTech have partnered for years on training programs, and this year, that paid off in a big way.
Regional Medical Response System Director Heather Yazdanipour said EMSA purchased the beds years ago as part of the durable medical equipment it needed to set up alternative care sites. Those sites allowed EMSA to operate a temporary hospital in an arena, tent or just about anywhere. When FEMA later created pod systems that were easier to deploy, EMSA no longer needed the beds, and they were put in storage. The beds were gathering dust in a warehouse when Yazdanipour decided to give them away. She immediately thought of Metro Technology Centers, one of Oklahoma's 29 technology center districts.
To find a home for the beds, she called Metro Tech nursing instructor Josie Scott with the offer of all 49. For several years, Yazdanipour and Scott worked together on an annual mass casualty event, during which Scott had originally seen the beds. As excited as she was at the prospect of getting new beds for her program, she said she did not need 49. Scott reached out to Lara Morris at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.
Morris, health careers education program manager at ODCTE, immediately went to work. With help from other CareerTech staff members, the beds were delivered to 23 campuses in 16 different technology center districts. Morris said more beds in the technology centers means more students can get hands-on training.
"A lot of short-term nursing programs might only have one bed at their disposal for all 10 or so students," she said. "Now they can get hands-on experience, rather than watching another student and having to wait their turn."
CareerTech has 26 training programs across the state to train licensed practical nurses that provide a foundation for two- or four-year registered nurse programs. Job openings in nursing are projected to grow at a faster rate than all other occupations through 2026.