ARC Respiratory Care Program donates equipment to community amid ventilator shortage

Approaching the COVID-19 pandemic with generosity in mind


American River College has donated ventilators and N-95 masks to University of California, Davis Medical Center, Mercy General Hospital and Kaiser South Sacramento Hospital to help with equipment needs during this essential time. (Photo courtesy of ventilator.png)

The COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic has challenged the American healthcare system, the American healthcare industry and the American structure of government in ways never seen before. While the states scramble to procure ventilators, medical personnel are fighting to save the lives of citizens while in dire need of equipment.

 Amid the coronavirus crisis, American River College is continuing to impact on the community. On March 16, two days before ARC officially halted all on-campus instruction, the Health and Education program director, Lisa Ilaga, reached out to local clinical partners to offer ventilators.

 That same day, all 11 ventilators were taken. Since campus labs were closed, the ventilators were offered for support in case of shortages at no charge to the receiving party.

 The hospitals that received ARC’s ventilator inventory include University of California, Davis Medical Center, Mercy General Hospital, and Kaiser South Sacramento Hospital. The Respiratory Care program also donated four boxes of N-95 masks and surgical masks,  which consisted of the schools’ entire stock.

 In an email to the Current, Ilaga, who is also an intensive care specialist respiratory therapist, confirmed she initiated the communication to offer the school inventory to support the community.

 It made me feel useful in a time where I didn’t feel like I was actively making a difference. I am personally friends with our respiratory managers that are the true heroes on the front lines,” Ilaga wrote. “The true credit goes to them. I was glad to do a small part but it was small in comparison.”

 California Gov. Gavin Newsom made a statement at a press conference that California donated 500 ventilators to the national stockpile. 

 “We still have a long road ahead of us in the Golden State – and we’re aggressively preparing for a surge – but we can’t turn our back on Americans whose lives depend on having a ventilator now,” Newsom said in a written statement. “I know that if the tables were turned and we were experiencing a hospital surge, other states would come to our aid.”

 Newsom later defended his decisions to donate ventilators.

“We thought it was the right thing to do, but I also want you to know it was the responsible thing to do as American citizens, from a moral and ethical imperative, to save lives,” Newsom said.

 According to Ilaga, all schools within Los Rios Community College District are donating equipment in some capacity to aid the cause of fighting COVID-19, but only ARC has a respiratory care program. When hospitals are done using the devices, they will sanitize each thoroughly before returning them.

 Each ventilator has a varying price range between $30,000 and $45,000. Ilaga credits Frank Kobayashi, ARC’s vice president of instruction and dean, for allowing the purchase of such elaborate devices.

 Frank and my dean, Jan Delapp, have supported my large purchases of this equipment (that I was able to loan out). I am super appreciative to have administration listen and hear my needs and concerns,” Ilaga said.