Texas college aims to bring medical students of different fields together

Odessa College’s Health Sciences Building is being renovated to allow everyone from emergency medical services students to nursing pupils to mingle and cooperate

By Ruth Campbell
Odessa American

ODESSA, Texas — Odessa College’s Health Sciences Building is being renovated to allow everyone from emergency medical services students to nursing and radiologic technology pupils to mingle and cooperate.

Vice President for Business Affairs Virginia Chisum said the two-story, 57,000-square-foot building is being remodeled in stages. Chisum said they started two years ago with remodeling part of the first floor for the new surgical tech program at $475,000.

Last summer, the EMS program space was remodeled at a cost of $280,000. The radiologic technology department is now being remodeled with a $150,000 grant from the Odessa Development Corp. and $150,000 for renovations of the lab, classroom storage and faculty offices, Chisum said in a text message.

The building offers more collaborative spaces for students, instructors and directors and digital imaging for the radiologic technology department.

The first two projects were funded by Vision 2015 bonds, which were approved for OC campus improvements and new buildings in 2010, Chisum and a previous Odessa American article said.

The idea behind the move was to bring all the allied health disciplines together. Collaborative spaces for students, instructors and directors will also foster more communication, officials said.

Bobby Valles, Fire/EMS director and a captain with Odessa Fire Rescue, said when Monahans, Kermit and Andrews need employees trained or are hiring someone to work in EMS, they will send them to Odessa College.

In Odessa, Valles said, every firefighter has to become a paramedic.

“Probably about 70 percent of the fire department employees are paramedics and the rest are going to school to become paramedics,” Valles said.

Marie Vasquez-Brooks, associate dean for nursing and allied health, said the new building houses credit and non-credit health related programs. Valles and Vasquez-Brooks said many students are in the building seven days a week.

“We also run our programs year-round, which is another unique part of Odessa College. Our students will come here through the summer,” Vasquez-Brooks said. “We want to make sure they don’t lose that connection with that content, so having that opportunity to take it through a full year not only gets them to the workplace much more quickly, but that content stays fresh.”

Every ambulance has an EMT and a paramedic. EMT is a lower level of certification. Valles said they take vital signs and there are certain drugs they can provide to patients. If someone is diabetic they can give them glucose or if a patient has asthma, they can administer Albuterol.

Paramedics can administer lifesaving treatments and intubate patients, for example.

The courses use top-of-the-line equipment such as simulation mannequins, including babies and families. Valles said there are also sim people that can be used for airway training and head-to-toe assessments.

Students are also taught how to drive the ambulance during a four-hour class. EMTs start about eight weeks into their 16-week program and paramedics, eight weeks into the first semester, Valles said.

Copyright 2017 Odessa American

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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