DMACC fights virus during National Community College Month

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DMACC Health Occupations Instructor Danielle Navarro readies boxes of personal protection equipment (PPE) to be donated by the DMACC Perry VanKirk Career Academy to the Dallas County Hospital and Family Medicine Clinics in Perry. Photo courtesy DMACC

April is National Community College Month, a time when community colleges traditionally celebrate their successes and prepare for commencement ceremonies and award banquets, recognizing the hard work and achievements of their students.

The novel coronavirus global pandemic has upset the usual proceedings, leading DMACC students, faculty and staff to find innovative ways to work hard and make a difference through community service.

“Community and connection have never been more important to all of us,” said DMACC President Rob Denson. “As our DMACC students, faculty and staff work together from a distance and in new and different ways, we’re proud to see their dedication, ideas and efforts make a positive impact in the communities around us.”

Denson mentioned some recent examples of how DMACC is working to help others during these unprecedented times:

DMACC quickly responded alongside the Greater Des Moines Partnership to a call for donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to health care providers in central Iowa, supplying some 4,000 N95 masks to Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines. Broadlawns Chief Medical Officer Dr. Yogi Shah picked up the donation in person and was acknowledged by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds during her March 30 news conference.

The Perry and Boone campuses of DMACC donated PPE to local health care providers, emphasizing the importance of health care workers in smaller communities. The DMACC Perry VanKirk Career Academy donated 150 masks, 80 isolation gowns and about 1,000 gloves to the Dallas County Hospital and Family Medicine Clinics in Perry, and the DMACC Boone Campus delivered a donation of 60 N95 masks, 130 isolation gowns, 6,500 exam gloves, 600 sterile gloves, 100 face masks and another 250 face masks with shields to the Boone County Hospital.

A section of Reynolds’ March 27 proclamation of a Public Health Disaster Emergency authorized nearly 100 pre-licensure DMACC nursing students set to graduate in May to complete their education early and immediately be hired as nurses in the war against COVID-19.

Under the direction of DMACC fashion merchandising and design faculty members Alecia Mintle, Courtney Conlin, Gretchen Bohling and Ann Gadbury, students sewed hundreds of Olson masks to support health care providers at local hospitals and medical offices responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DMACC psychology Professor Marilyn Jerome and her students led a service-learning project to make and donate protective masks to workers in local nursing homes and shelters, helping to protect vulnerable populations.

After canceling the college-wide spring semester commencement ceremonies due to the impact of COVID-19, DMACC President Rob Denson promised to move funds for commencement ceremonies into an emergency fund for students.

“During these challenging times, it’s inspiring to see continued learning and what can be achieved through creativity, compassion and commitment,” Denson said. “We’re in this together, and the future remains bright.”

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