CNC gala presents wishlist alongside wine list

Inside the College of New Caledonia's medical lab, much of the equipment in sight is donated by members of the community.

From lamps that aid sample analysis, to the pipettes that measure volume, to the plastic shields that protect the 24 medical laboratory technicians-in-training, all have been on the program wishlist posted at the college's biggest fundraiser of the year: the Global Gourmet Fundraising Gala.

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On one of the sterile work surfaces, a plastic, human-sized arm shows signs of repeated needle insertions where students can practice taking blood samples.

This year they need new skin, and a new vein.

"It gets beat up over time," said Ryan Young, pointing to the wear on the skin near the vein.

"The hands-on experience is the best learning experience," said Young, who helps get the lab ready and teaches some courses after graduating from the program in 2009.

"It's one thing to talk about what's going on, what's expected of you, but being able to get your hands on it, get used to the techniques and the processes involved, it just magnifies the learning experience."

Today at CNC's ninth annual Global Gala the lab will be asking for items that range from $100 to more than $10,000.

The program covers five areas a medical laboratory technologist needs to know: chemistry, hematology, microbiology, histology and transfusion services.

Young said a technologist's job is to examine "basically any sample that you can collect" - primarily blood but also tissue samples.

"Until I became part of the profession, I found it to be just a hidden job. Everyone goes to get their blood-work done," he said, not seeing what happens behind the scenes. "That's one thing I really do like with the program, the input it has to health care and patient care."

For Kali Pugulia, who will start her practicum in two weeks, learning in the lab with the types of tools she expects to see in the field is essential.

"I think if we didn't have these, we wouldn't be able to learn anywhere near the knowledge that we're learning," said the 24-year-old. "We'd go out to a practicum and be totally lost."

The donations have made a huge difference since the program started seven years ago, where students had to share much of the equipment.

"The frustration that we were seeing those first couple years because they had to wait so much has disappeared," said Yvonne Yaschuck, who teaches microbiology. "They don't have to wait their turn."

When it started, they had six serofuges, a $2,500 device that is used in blood cell washing procedures and spins to separate serum from cells. Now, thanks to the fundraiser, they have 18 and are asking for six more this year. Now they also have enough plastic shields to protect students from the bio-hazardous material they're analyzing.

"It's like night and day," she said. "It makes life so much easier."

Last year, the gala raised more than $30,000 and this year's approximately 150 attendees can select from a list of 66 items the departments have placed on their wishlist.

"Nursing always asks for neat things," said Bonnie Mercedes, the fundraiser coordinator. "3-D human heart model, who wouldn't want to buy that? (An) IV demonstration kit, the advanced patient care breast palpitation trainer. "

From facial skulls to reproductive models for science classes and torque wrenches for trades to display units for the library to GPS devices for the natural resources program, Mercedes said there's a wide range of interesting items

The night will feature eight types of cuisine from professional cooks and is the highlight of the year for the culinary program, as well as the college.

"It's one of the best kind of ways to give back to CNC students," said Mercedes, adding people can also donate online for the week after the event. "It's also a fantastic night of culinary cuisine."

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