WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — With COVID-19 cases still rising in North Texas, health care providers’ need for personal protective equipment has risen also, and the smaller rural medical facilities sometimes find themselves at the bottom of the list for distribution.
To help these smaller health care providers, the North Texas Area Health Education Center at Midwestern State University has purchased approximately $31,250 in PPE to distribute to those facilities.
The Area Health Education Center is a federal grant program that opened in the fall of 2019 at MSU Texas under the direction of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
One of the center’s main missions is to recruit, educate, and sustain a health professions workforce committed to underserved and rural populations.
The funds used to purchase the PPE were intended for a large symposium that would connect students with scholarship opportunities and health care providers, but the threat of COVID-19 canceled those plans.
“It was a use it or lose it moment,” Community Health Educator and Coordinator for the Health Education Center Charis Rhoades said. “We had to commit to a change of plans and find out how we could still help our rural clinics.”
The supplies were ordered in April, but with nationwide shortages and much of the equipment on back order, they have just now come in. Personnel will deliver the supplies throughout the end of July.
“This still aligns with our mission of meeting community health care needs through working with academic institutions and community organizations,” Rhoades said.
Eleven area facilities will receive approximately $2,850 each in PPE, which includes 1,500 masks; 10 non-contact infrared thermometers; 3,000 small gloves; 3,000 medium gloves; 2,100 large gloves; 200 shoe covers; 20 face shields; and 70 isolation gowns.
Hospitals and clinics receiving the PPE are Muenster Memorial Hospital, North Texas Medical Center in Gainesville, Nocona General Hospital, Clay County Memorial Hospital in Henrietta, Electra Memorial Hospital, Olney Hamilton Hospital, Faith Community Hospital in Jacksboro, Palo Pinto General Hospital in Mineral Wells, Graham Regional Medical Center, Faith Community Rural Health Clinic in Bowie, and WHS Rural Clinic in Weatherford.
The Area Health Education Center already has provided programs in the Robert D. & Carol Gunn College of Health Sciences & Human Services and the Wichita Falls Independent School District’s Career Education Center with approximately $4,000 in medical equipment for training students.
The West Texas AHEC area has six regional centers, with 261 centers nationwide. The office at MSU Texas serves 11 counties: Archer, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wichita, Wise, and Young.