Clover Park Technical College Nursing student wearing a mask

The Power of Partnerships During COVID-19

April 28, 2020

When a family emergency brought a medical services team to her home in mid-March, Myra Griffin was stunned to see them arrive wearing eye protection and gloves, but not disposable face masks or gowns.

“It wasn’t a COVID-19 emergency, but I was surprised they didn’t have full protective gear,” she said.

As an advanced registered nurse practitioner and director of Clover Park Technical College Nursing Programs, Griffin knows well the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep medical personnel and patients safe, especially during a pandemic. The shortage of supplies in the community was concerning.

When she returned to work few days later, COVID-19 state directives had already sidelined on-campus instruction. Griffin knew she needed to get the CPTC Allied Health program’s unused PPE into the hands of local first responders. The same day she received a call from Bill Barber, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Battalion Chief for West Pierce Fire & Rescue. The fire station, located on the edge of the CPTC campus, was in dire need of PPE. Barber wondered if Griffin had anything to spare.

“The timing was amazing,” Griffin said. “Administration was on board, and Allied Health faculty were more than happy to offer what they had.”

Barber was thrilled to accept three carts of face masks for patients, along with disposable gowns and hand sanitizer for emergency personnel. 

“Receiving the supplies was a huge relief for us,” Barber said. “At the time, our in-house reserves were low, and we were unsure about our ability to procure PPE going forward.”

The short-term solution ensured field personnel had proper protection and bought West Pierce Fire & Rescue some much-needed time to find other supply streams.

It was a clutch play during a challenging time and the latest example of collaboration between CPTC’s nursing program and West Pierce Fire & Rescue. Over the years, Griffin has offered use of the program’s simulation lab and high-fidelity mannequins for EMS training, and Barber’s crew hosts ride alongs for nursing students. 

Good deed deserves another

After nurse education was deemed essential by Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, licensed practical nursing and nursing assistant students returned to campus in late April.

With shortages hindering their ability to purchase more supplies, nursing program staff and faculty sewed dozens of masks and encouraged students to make and bring their own. But it wasn’t enough. At the time, Griffin didn’t realize a solution was already in the works.

For more than 11 years, Clover Park Technical College has partnered with the Civil Aviation Flight University of China (CAFUC). Chinese students can attend the Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) program on CPTC’s South Hill Campus, get their associate of applied science degree, and go on to complete their engineering degree in aviation at CAFUC.

Qiuqiu Zhenhua, chief representative of West China Development International Group, Inc., coordinates the student exchange program between the two schools. Through conversations with Yuko Chartraw, CPTC Manager of International Programs, Zhenhau became aware of CPTC’s shortage of supplies and arranged to donate 480 face masks for students, faculty and staff. Part of that generous gift will help protect nursing students as they carry on their on-campus studies.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, Zhenhua has also been in close contact with Chartraw and CPTC President Dr. Joyce Loveday to share recommendations based on China’s experience with the virus and ensure the 11 CAFUC students currently enrolled at CPTC and living with host families are safe and supported while they continue their studies abroad.

“I appreciate CPTC, Dr. Loveday and Yuko Chartraw for the special attention and strong support given to our students,” Zhenhua said.

Along with their fellow classmates, CAFUC students are adjusting to the new virtual learning environment while doing their part to stay home, stay healthy and help flatten the COVID-19 curve.

To donate to help students in need, visit

Note: While state employees normally cannot accept gifts of a certain value, federal laws have been relaxed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.


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Practical nursing students use their masks and practice social distancing upon their return to campus April 21, 2020.