Let’s face it – COVID-19 has challenged even the strongest of us.
Yet, some beautiful acts have also emerged. While the pandemic is physically disconnecting us, it’s also drawing many communities together.
And at La Trobe, we’ve rolled up our sleeves too. With campuses in Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga, Mildura and Shepparton, we’re in a great position to help regional communities affected by COVID-19.
Here are just a few things we’re doing to support our communities in regional Victoria.
Go on, take our hospital
We’ve handed our Clinical Teaching School in Bendigo to the leading regional health service, Bendigo Health. Our clinical school is on loan for three months and will be used to train health staff in the region’s COVID-19 response.
And take our new ICU equipment
We’ve purchased much-needed ICU equipment for our regional partners, including Bendigo Health, Albury-Wodonga Health, Goulburn Valley Health and Ramsay Health Care (Mildura Base Hospital).
These health services are using the equipment during the pandemic and, once they no longer need it, they’ll return it to La Trobe for teaching purposes.
Would you also like our face masks?
We’ve also donated our current stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) to health services in Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo, Mildura and Shepparton. This includes masks, scrubs, gloves, gowns and more.
We usually use these items for teaching our health and dentistry students. However, right now, they’re best used in the region’s COVID-19 response.
Let’s turn these machines into ventilators
And we haven’t stopped there. We’ve put our researchers and students to work innovating new solutions. Our Professor of Practice (Engineering), Chris Stoltz, is coordinating an initiative that’s converting CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines into basic ventilators. Professor Stoltz is helping to identify manufacturers in Bendigo who can create ventilator parts for the conversions.
“We have some amazing capabilities in Bendigo, including manufacturers who are ready and willing to reconfigure their plants to make much-needed equipment for hospitals.”Professor Chris Stoltz, Professor of Practice (Engineering)
As part of La Trobe’s collaborative approach, Professor Stoltz has looked at which resources we can pool.
“We’re also working on a way to make ventilators from licenced designs, here in Bendigo. Many companies have come forward offering their equipment and staff. Our efforts are part of broader work underway by universities around Australia to do what we can to help,” Professor Stoltz said.
And let’s print some new PPE
We’re also using our 3D printers to prototype new personal protective equipment (PPE). La Trobe’s Bendigo Tech School is working hard to provide high value visors for healthcare workers who might be exposed to COVID-19.
The school’s director, Graeme Wiggins, said although La Trobe campuses are now operating online, a small number of essential staff have special permission to work on the premises, including those contributing to the Tech School’s work as part of the healthcare initiative.
“We’ve put our advanced manufacturing technology to work prototyping parts for much-needed visors. As an innovation hub that enables students to solve industry challenges in real-world contexts, it’s fitting that we’ve been able to put our resources and technical know-how to practical use,” Mr Wiggins said.
And perhaps you’d like our teaching materials?
As homes have turned into online classrooms, we’re supporting high schools across all our regions. We’re helping teachers to develop their online resources and we’re also sharing some of our own online teaching resources.
We’re also specifically supporting Year 12 students, who are facing their toughest school year while also living in lockdown. Our Albury-Wodonga Pathway and Bradford Pathway programs have been working directly with schools, helping to develop and deliver online resources for their Year 12 students.
Or would you like a free business course?
La Trobe is also supporting local businesses and individuals facing the challenges of COVID-19 through a free online leadership development program.
Our Master of Business Administration (MBA) lecturers are volunteering their time to run the course. La Trobe Business School Honorary Associate, Dr Susan Inglis, is among the academics and alumni who stepped forward to help.
“I had some free time and was wanting to give back to others who may be doing it tough,” said Dr Inglis, a former Professor of Practice who teaches in the MBA.
“It’s been a privilege to volunteer my skills to help design this program. As a La Trobe alumni and staff member, I feel a close connection with the University’s values of assisting our community—this is such a practical way to do so,” she said.
As a fully online course, it’s also available to anyone around the world. Over a thousand people have already taken up the challenge from as far as Canada, Nigeria and Germany.
Feel inspired to explore the intersection between healthcare and digital technologies? Take a look at our new postgraduate short courses.