– College of the North Atlantic (CNA) is no stranger to answering the call to help during times of crisis.
Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) last month, health care facilities around the globe have been stretched to the limit, whether it’s their ability to respond effectively to the growing health care demands or accessing essential medical equipment/supplies.
CNA has a long history of applied research and innovation as a post-secondary skilled trades and technology training organization. As such, the college has identified several ways it can assist with the production of personal protective equipment (PPE), donation of medical equipment and supplies it uses for training, and by providing campus space for health care needs.
“This was a natural fit for us,” said Bruce Hollett, CNA President & CEO. “We know these have been tough times for everyone, especially for our health care providers and the frontline workers. CNA has trained thousands of people in our School of Health Sciences programs to help strengthen the province’s health care system. Now, where and when possible, we will do our utmost to address the needs of the province’s regional health authorities to combat the spread of COVID-19. We are proud to be part of a team that is able to provide its expertise and assets where needed, and we have been actively working with our community partners to combine our resources for these extraordinary circumstances.”
Projects that CNA has actively been involved with include:
- Isolation gowns: The Anna Templeton Centre is being used to manufacture isolation gowns, and this includes the use of CNA equipment, volunteer college staff, and five Textile and Apparel Design graduates have been hired to assist.
- Tyvek medical gowns and nitrile gloves: Use of testing equipment to cut patterns and assemble gowns, and to develop a process to make and test the gloves.
- Medical masks: CNAQatar students have designed a program to print a medical mask on a 3D printer.
- Testing sites: Use of Burin, Gander and Grand FallsWindsor campuses as sites for COVID-19 testing sites, and possibly the use of other sites as the needs are identified by Departments of Health & Community Services (DHCS), and Transportation and Works.
- Medical PPE supplies: CNA has compiled an overall inventory of medical PPE supplies per campus location to assist DHCS in their efforts and needs.
- Ventilators: CNA will provide functional ventilators that it uses in the Respiratory Therapy and Electronics Engineering Technology (Biomedical) programs. There are also discussions of developing a ventilator prototype that can be built entirely in NL.
- Face shields: CNA researchers are building and testing prototypes of face shields using 3D printing and laser cutting. If successful, it could increase output of face shields from hundreds per day to thousands. The college has also been asked to design and manufacture face mask straps for use by frontline health workers.
- Touchfree dispensers: Locally produced hand sanitizers require a hygienically safe way of dispensing solutions from the bottles, so CNA’s applied research team is working on a method to achieve this.
- Food: CNA is providing food from its suspended kitchen operations at its Bay St. George campus to the local food bank for distribution. Another group within the college is working with provincial organizations and government departments to provide food, or identify sources of food, for those in need.
Hollett says CNA’s academic program delivery continues to be successfully delivered online, and it is unknown when in-person classes will be held again. While the suspension of on-campus learning remains in effect, Hollett says CNA is committed to exploring opportunities for the campuses and their resources to be used in the communities throughout the province as part of the response to COVID-19.
College of the North Atlantic