Lone Star College nursing students tapped to help out with Houston-area hospitals burdened with COVID surge

Houston-area nursing students are being recruited to help alleviate local hospitals burdened by the surge COVID-19 cases. 

A new program initiated by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and the State Department of Health in August will help first-and second-year nursing students at Lone Star College get jobs at local hospitals, like Ben Taub, LBJ, and UMMC.  
Students will be tasked with dealing with non-COVID patients. 

"These students we're not sending them over as students, they're actually being hired as employees into the hospital," said Mario Castillo, the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel at Lone Star College Systems. 

Castillo says the program’s intention is not to send students into situations unprepared, but rather, free up more experienced nurses to deal with the surge of COVID patients. 

"I'd say it's closer to taking temperatures, sitting there, and making sure that the monitors are okay. Then, when something happens, calling somebody with a lot more experience to come manage it. The hospitals just need a lot of set of eyes essentially, and so that that's really the need," Castillo said.  

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24-year-old Ashley Cook is a second-year LSC nursing student up for the challenge. Cook is in the process of applying for the new program.  

"I do feel like I am competent enough to go into a hospital, high-pressure environment, and be able to be a successful member of a team. We've been sitting behind our computers for about a year now reading our textbooks, watching the news, and seeing all of the horrible things that have been going on. There has been a lot of talk of why can't we go help, why can't we go and put our hands in the fire too, and you know, bring something to the table," said Cook.  


On Thursday, Lone Star College Montgomery also graduated two dozen students from its first cohort of Bachelors in Science and Nursing. The program was created during the pandemic to help with the increased demand for healthcare workers. 

Castillo says LSC is currently in the process of reviewing student applications and conducting interviews.  

Castillo adds LSC will send as many qualified nursing students as possible to help with the hospitals.