Converting campuses into healthcare facilities

Muskegon Community College is preparing its facilities to help serve local patient-care efforts, if needed. (Photo: MCC)

It was just a few years ago that state and local funding helped build Muskegon Community College’s (MCC’s) Health and Wellness Center to train health professionals. So when Mercy Health and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) made a request to use the space to accommodate overflow patients, MCC readily agreed.  

“Our mission at Muskegon Community College is to build stronger communities and improve lives,” said MCC President Dale Nesbary. “In these difficult days, we are thankful that our college can help those on the front lines in mitigating COVID-19’s impact on our community and state.”

The 52,000-square-foot facility has a large gymnasium where hospital beds have been placed. The building also houses the college’s Nursing and Respiratory Therapy Simulation Center, with four sim labs and debriefing rooms, and MCC’s medical assistant program, with exam rooms, blood draw stations and a laboratory station for point-of-care testing and analysis. 

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“It’s fitting that today’s health professionals, too, can tap into the center’s many features to battle one of the greatest health challenges of our lifetime,” Nesbary said. 

Another part of the center that can be used is Mercy Health Physician Partners Quarterline Family Medicine, created through a partnership between MCC, Mercy Health Muskegon and Grand Valley State University. The primary clinic occupies roughly 4,000 square feet with eight exam rooms, a treatment room and a lab to accommodate three nurse practitioners and their support staff, according to a release from the college.

Contractually, MDHHS and Mercy Health can use the MCC Health and Wellness Center through May 27. 

A place to stay

Elsewhere in Michigan, Jackson College is working with Henry Ford Allegiance Health (HFAH) and the state to prepare for an influx of COVID-19 patients. 

The college donated much of its personal protective equipment (PPE), such as thousands of masks, gowns and gloves used in health training programs, and has delivered 34 ventilators. But it’s keeping some equipment in the event it becomes a field hospital. The Health Laboratory Center has simulation spaces that can be used as hospital rooms, and the gymnasium can hold a number of beds. 

Jackson College is offering its campus housing to Henry Ford Allegiance Health employees who want to stay close to the hospital. (Photo: Jackson College)

Jackson College also is offering some campus housing as temporary residences for HFAH employees who choose to stay close to the hospital. 

As medical workers log long hours, and many have long commutes, having a place to rest and reset between shifts is welcome. It also allows them to self-isolate and protect their families from exposure to COVID-19.   

“We are part of a collective effort that’s responding to our community need. We have a moral and practical responsibility to aid in this effort,” said Jackson College President Dan Phelan. 

The college installed signs around campus last week to welcome HFAH employees. 

Answering the call

A residence hall at Dutchess Community College (DCC) in New York is ready to accommodate overflow patients from local hospitals. A state mandate has been issued to increase hospital capacity by 50 percent and to make a plan to double capacity. 

“We have a long history of partnering with our sponsor, Dutchess County, to achieve shared community goals. When the county, in collaboration with our local hospitals, identified our residence hall as a potential site to accommodate non-critical patients, we didn’t hesitate to offer our assistance,” said DCC President Pamela Edington. “This is a public health crisis that requires collaboration and cooperation at every level.”

There are 465 beds in the building, but it’s uncertain at this point how many hospital beds may be needed. 

“Community colleges are valuable local assets and resources that work toward the greater good. We have the responsibility – and the privilege – to respond when possible to the needs of our friends and neighbors,” Edington added. “While the magnitude of this pandemic is unprecedented, it is symbolic of many challenges that require each of us, personally and professionally, to do our part to make our communities safer, healthier and stronger.”

About the Author

Tabitha Whissemore
is a contributor to Community College Daily and managing editor of AACC's Community College Journal.