Given the anticipated shortages of hospital staff able to treat those infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Israeli Ministry of Health has asked nursing schools across the country to train their students in respiratory care.

Answering the call, some 600 third- and fourth-year nursing students from the Jerusalem College of Technology’s five campuses were trained within the past week.

Heeding the urgent request of the ministry’s director of nursing, the goal was to train a therapeutic team that can provide treatment to respiratory corona patients should medical personnel be forced to go into isolation or if there is an extreme burden of patients requiring additional manpower.

In order to prevent more infections within hospitals, the course was conducted.

“The nursing students at Machon Lev, Mivhar, Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Machon Tal embody the overall spirit of nurses across the country who recognized the challenge of completing training in such a short time frame, but yet, stopped at nothing to help the community at large,” said Dr. Haya Raz, head of the nursing school at JCT.

Raz pointed out the need for the urgent influx of staff since the demand for treating patients with coronavirus is far exceeding what doctors and nurses are currently capable of providing. This is especially true as workers in the health-care sector are particularly susceptible to the virus. In fact, many of them have already been forced into quarantine.

“Doctors and nurses work 12-hour shifts a day as it is,” she noted. “There’s only so long they’re able to maintain this high level of stress and fatigue before they burn out. This extra help is critical to making sure our healthcare system doesn’t collapse.”

This initiative is one example of the health ministry’s strategy to contain the spread of coronavirus.

While experts don’t know how long this pandemic will last, Ehud Davidson, the general manager of Israel’s largest health maintenance organization, Clalit Health Services, has warned that minimizing the outbreak of new infections could take up to three months.

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