MORRIS COUNTY — Since their formation, community colleges have seen their communities through many challenging times, including the training of veterans from World War II and the unemployed during the Great Recession of 2007-09. During this current time of crisis, community colleges, their faculty, students, graduates, staff and administration once again are making significant impacts in their communities.
Along with helping students to move forward with their education in an online format, County College of Morris (CCM) is offering assistance to the community to support residents during these challenging times. Since March 30, the campus has been serving as a COVID-19 Testing Center for Morris County in coordination with the Morris County Office of Emergency Management, the Morris County Sheriff’s Department, Morris County Park Police, Randolph Township Police Department and Atlantic Health System. Helping with that effort are staff from CCM’s Departments of Public Safety and Plant and Maintenance, who are serving as traffic directors, site monitors and in other roles as needed.
The college also has donated equipment to Morristown Medical Center, including five ventilators, 325 N95 masks and 3,000 gloves. In addition, at the request of Atlantic Health Systems, the college’s engineering lab coordinator is creating face shields on the college’s 3-D printers for healthcare workers. The shields are being created based on specifications provided by Atlantic Health. The college is able to create about 15 a day.
Meanwhile, CCM graduates are working in healthcare facilities throughout the county and region as nurses, respiratory therapists and radiographers.
Included among them are two recent graduates, Jeremy Friedland ’19, of Parsippany, a graduate of the Nursing Program; and Melanie New ’19, of Vernon, a graduate of the Respiratory Therapy Program, both of whom are on the front line of helping COVID-19 patients at Morristown Medical Center. Another is Cassidy Grady ’19, of Lake Hopatcong, a graduate of the Respiratory Therapy Program, a full-time night respiratory therapist at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. CCM has trained approximately half of the nurses and roughly 90 percent of the respiratory therapists who work in Morris County.
“County College of Morris is proud to support our healthcare providers. Many of these individuals are CCM alumni. For this reason, we often say that today’s graduates are tomorrow’s heroes. The men and women who work in health care are literally putting their lives at risk to help others. We are extremely grateful to all of them and appreciate their service and devotion to helping those in need,” said Dr. Anthony J. Iacono, CCM president.
With all classes now online at CCM and the college working remotely, several students and employees found they were lacking the technology to make the transition. To assist them, the college on Saturday, April 4, distributed nearly 40 laptops at a special distribution event staffed by several CCM employees. Also distributed at the event was other equipment students require to continue their classwork, such as art and photography supplies and pottery wheels and clay.
Further supporting students, the CCM Foundation has increased its focus on raising funds for the Titan Emergency Fund. That fund provides students with financial support to meet unexpected expenses, from car repairs, to food, housing, medical and other issues, so they can stay on track to graduate.