Missouri freshman legislators tour MCC’s Health Science Institute

During MCC’s stop on the Freshman Tour of state legislators, instructor Randy Leighton discusses the College’s physical therapy assistant program. (Photos by Clare Otto and Tim Engle/MCC)

It was Metropolitan Community College’s time to shine in front of a group of state lawmakers.

Freshman Missouri legislators stopped by MCC-Penn Valley’s Health Science Institute Dec. 5 as part of a day of tours coordinated by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. The MCC stop was intended to showcase the value of an MCC education and demonstrate how the Greater Kansas City business and educational communities are working together to meet workforce needs.

During the MCC stop, lawmakers were able to see students and instructors in action in the Virtual Hospital, surgical technology lab and physical therapy assistant lab. They were shown the hands-on training and personal instruction students receive.

MCC-Penn Valley surgical technology instructor Roger Massey guides lawmakers through the HSI operating room.

Dr. Tyjaun Lee, president of the MCC-Penn Valley and MCC-Maple Woods campuses, told the lawmakers that HSI’s facility is one of just two fully accredited virtual hospitals in Missouri.

The ability of what MCC is able to do wasn’t lost on the incoming lawmakers. State Rep.-elect Mike McGirl of Potosi found the tour enlightening: “You prepare people for real-world jobs, not just book study.”

It’s an observation that’s backed up by facts from physical therapy program coordinator Randy Leighton. “We track our success through professional licensing tests,” he told the new legislators. “We have a 99.7 percent pass rate and a 100 percent employment rate.”

Nursing student Elaine Watkins and recent grad Chris Hahn

MCC nursing student Elaine Watkins and recent nursing grad Chris Hahn spoke briefly to the group of lawmakers. Watkins just completed a clinical experience at Children’s Mercy Hospital and plans to work in pediatric nursing. Hahn is an R.N. on the telemetry floor at Truman Medical Centers, monitoring critically ill patients such as cardiac cases.

“I love my job,” Hahn said. “And I wouldn’t have it if I hadn’t gone to Penn Valley.”

On the tour, Virtual Hospital coordinator Liz Santander told lawmakers that MCC’s patient simulators are “very complex computers” that cost about $80,000 apiece. “Everything’s as real as we can make it,” she said of the simulated hospital environment.  Off-site clinical experiences give students experience with human patients.

The Virtual Hospital’s newborn baby simulator (right) gets some love from one of the freshman legislators. MCC’s Liz Santander is at left.

Some of MCC’s business partners also spoke with legislators about the need to replenish the workforce pipeline in Missouri.  They outlined current programs that start addressing that need in K-12 schools. They also talked about programs that train adults for new careers.

“MCC understands that not all students are on track for a four-year degree,” said MCC chief legal officer Sandra Garcia. “We service the needs of Kansas City’s workforce.”

Other Kansas City stops for the freshman legislators included Truman Medical Centers, Swope Parkway Health Center, the Negro Leagues and American Jazz museums, and Boulevard Brewing Co. The lawmakers are visiting areas around the state to hear from business, education and community leaders about the issues that matter most to them.

Charlie Shields, president and CEO of Truman Medical Centers, speaks with new Missouri lawmakers at MCC’s Health Science Institute. Shields is a former state legislator himself.
New Missouri legislators gathered to hear brief remarks from MCC-Penn Valley president Dr. Tyjaun Lee, chief legal officer Sandra Garcia, a student and a recent graduate.  This year there are 64 state representatives and senators about to embark on their first legislative session in Jefferson City.