Chilton center grows for health training
By Stephen Groessel
A medical assistant student at FVTC’s Regional Center in Chilton makes a report on a lab test which she performed. The new expansion at the center will enable students in the program to more efficiently carry out lab work and practice phlebotomy skills as part of their course work. In fulfilling graduation requirements, students in the program spend six weeks as interns getting real world experience at clinics and hospitals.

A modest expansion of the Fox Valley Technical College’s (FVTC) Chilton Regional Center facility will support the health care training needs of the region.

Program growth in the medical assistant, nursing assistant and the practical nursing fields is the principal reason for the addition being built at the north end of the facility.

Last year in April residents of the five-plus county area served by FVTC approved a referendum authorizing the college to expand facilities. The expansion enhances programs that are in high demand and touch many areas of the Fox Valley region: public safety, health care, student success, transportation and agriculture.

Enrollment in programs offered at the Chilton Regional Center where space is limited have grown 36 percent since 2008.

A decision by the college to purchase the Chilton Regional Center facility (eliminating a lease payment) will significantly reduce ongoing operating expenses. The $1.7 million new addition to the Regional Center will support program growth in the health care field.

According to Chilton Regional Center manager Colleen Schnell, the 2,000 sq. ft. expansion will be “short and sweet,” launched in June and completed in August. The 30 x 68 addition will narrow somewhat the sidewalk running along the north end but will not shrink the adjoining parking lot space.

Schnell said the addition will house three lab beds, two phlebotomy chairs, a shared classroom for medical assistant and nursing students. The south end of the addition will hold four nursing beds. “The setup will allow us to better use the rooms we now have,” said Schnell, who added that moving equipment around to create space has been physically wearing on it. Competing for space now is the medical assistant program with the craft room and the industrial bay where industrial training takes place.

The new medical wing will create a more realistic setting, similar to that found in an actual clinic or hospital, including human patient simulators. It will include an exam room for patients equipped with a computer and running water, and an instructor’s office. The new space will also include a small storage area for equipment now standing around. “The program we have now will be enhanced by the addition and allow for more realistic teaching,” said Schnell who is excited about the project.

The Regional Center facility is designed for even further expansion which might or might not happen, Schnell said.

Drawing blood

Phlebotomy, the science of drawing blood, is one important task of the medical assistant. The employment of trained phlebotomists to work in clinic and hospital labs, in emergency rooms, at blood drives and the like is growing. Many medical assistants who work in doctor offices also take vitals and collect samples. After completing their training at the Chilton Regional Center which runs from September through May the medical assistant is awarded a technical diploma.

Teaching lab procedures means part head and hands-on knowledge, said Jean Harder who serves as an instructor in the medical asistant program. Learning the procedures of drawing blood and performing clinical tests, one needs to know science and mathematics.

Practicing the drawing of blood on one another means experiencing the other end of it, Harder said. “It is better experiencing here and now patients who are afraid of needles and difficult patients. The sharp needle is a lethal weapon and I am there watching them for the first five pokes; my eyes are on them because the needle could cause nerve damage.”

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