In an effort to help the community endure the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, El Camino College is donating three ventilators to Torrance Memorial Medical Center (TMMC).
As COVID-19 probes on, the infection count and death count are rising. With 54,937 confirmed cases in California and 27,815 cases in Los Angeles County alone, hospitals all over the state are feeling the pressure.
“We manage our supplies, we manage our staffing to meet some of the challenges that are in front of us,” Erin Fiorito, Director of Marketing and Communications at Torrance Memorial Medical Center (TMMC), said. “It’s a challenging time, but there were no specific issues with supplies or staffing, any of those things that maybe you may have seen out in New York.”
With their first case occurring on Friday, March 13, TMMC has seen a consistent number of patients each day for the past few weeks, Fiorito said.
“The number of COVID patients we have in house has remained stable for several weeks,” Fiorito said. “So we are running between around 35 inpatient COVID patients, and that number has been consistent for several weeks. We’ve never had to expand beyond our existing ICU. The capacity has been completely sufficient with our existing [counts].”
While the need in the South Bay is not as desperate as the need in more Metropolitan areas like New York City that currently have over 170,000 cases, TMMC is preparing for a potential surge in patients.
“When we started out in the very beginning of this crisis and were sort of watching what was happening in other states and preparing for a potential surge, knowing we had, some partners in the community that we could, either access other PPE such as N95 masks, as well as ventilators, was hugely helpful in our planning for potential surge.” Fiorito said.
While the expected surge hasn’t happened yet, the relationship with TMMC is a close one, President of El Camino College, Dena Maloney said, with ECC willing and and able to help them in their time of need.
“We work closely with Torrance Memorial Memorial Medical Center as a clinical placement site for students that are studying respiratory therapy,” Maloney said. “The respiratory care department got an inquiry from Torrance Memorial because we already had a relationship, asking if we had any ventilators that could be made available, in response to COVID-19, where the hospital felt it might be short. After discussion about where we are in our program this year, we felt that we could honor that request.”
In this great time of need, ECC is following the lead of other colleges in California such as University of California, Davis and The University of Southern California to respond to the calls and requests as they come.
“I certainly think that we want to help as many community partners as possible,” Maloney said. “Colleges up and down the state are pitching in to help; this was one way we could. But I know that in the future, if there’s another call, we’ll see if we can give some assistance because this is our community. These are our students, our faculty, our staff, our community members, and we want to do everything we can to help.”
In terms of future contributions, Board of Trustees Member, Clifford Numark, said ECC may take more “extreme” actions towards the fight against coronavirus should the community see larger increases in case numbers.
“El Camino is a player in the broader South Bay Community,” Numark said. “And we train nurses, I mean, there are things that have happened, throughout the country where medical students were enlisted to actually begin their practice of medicine before they actually graduated because they needed people to care for the sick patients. So it would not surprise me that extreme measures get taken if we have a significant surge in the disease.”
Numark said he also believes that the healthcare system must do their best to be prepared for the worst.
“It’s super important that we work collectively with all the resources in, certainly the state of California and even the country to ensure that we put the right equipment in the right places, and that we have the right equipment if things were to occur, where we have a sudden surge in cases. What we want to make sure [of], and this is the real challenge that the broader public and public health has faced, is that [we’re] prepared,” Numark said.
ECC is committed to continue giving support in the areas it can while the coronavirus is still a part of our daily lives.
“I think it’s part of a very committed effort to help support our community in a time that’s virtually never happened before in the South Bay and in California and the country,” Maloney said.” So there was a commitment before we even had to ask that, of course, we would do whatever we could to help.”