Facebook Supports Shift VR Healthcare Training Through Grant to East Cascades Works


East Cascades Works recently received a generous grant from Facebook to support a partnership with Shift, a Bend-based company, to deliver a cutting-edge Virtual Reality training for health care workers on the proper use of PPE related to COVID-19. This $50,000 grant will support the purchase of five Oculus headsets and a Cleanbox to ensure safe deployment of the virtual reality training, which will be made free of charge to students and healthcare professionals throughout the East Cascades region.

“Our goal was to provide virtual reality COVID-19 training for healthcare workers and those working in post-acute care and long-term care facilities who are being asked to engage in care that is outside their normal practice as well as for those whose training is out of date,” explains Wendy Morgan, CEO of Shift.

Shift’s COO and co-founder Maggie Hubbell said that in the near term, this will provide a no-barrier solution to help bring the skills needed to people on the front lines. “Long-term, this training will continue to be vital to bring our national systems back into balance.”

“We are so excited about both the immediate- and longer-term benefits of diversifying the way education is delivered in Crook County and Central Oregon, as well as the potential for this technology to be used for career exploration opportunities in a health setting for young people,” said Heather Ficht, executive director of East Cascades Works. “We’re very grateful to Facebook for their support of this innovative program, and we’re excited to partner with Shift.”

“Prineville is our home, and we are committed to the health and vitality of the Crook County community. We are proud to be a partner with East Cascade Works and Shift, and to support health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the immersive power of virtual reality, real-life training around life-or-death medical scenarios can be held in a virtual world, making them safe, efficient and cost-effective, and we’re excited to help bring this innovative program to Crook County,” said William Marks, Community Development regional manager, Facebook.

Central Oregon Community College (COCC) hosted beta testing of the technology on their Bend Campus in May and participants shared positive feedback with the Shift team, including Julie Downing, instructional dean at COCC, who described it as, “Important training that is taught in an organized, easy-to-remember way that could save lives.” Jessica Fitzpatrick, director of Youth Programs at East Cascade Works, also participated, and says,Shift’s training incorporates social-distancing standards and safe handling of the training equipment whilst teaching trainees how to properly prepare for a highly stressful patient care setting in a safe and sanitary way. You are both fully immersed in a virtual world, while remaining completely safe on your own.”

For a demonstration example, please check out this video. As Stephanie Leapaldt of Cascades East Area Health Education Center stated, “I did the training today, it was awesome! It gave you the feeling that you were in the room with other people. It allowed you to do a pulse check, do respirations, put on an oximeter as well as learning the patterns to don your PPE and take it off.” 

East Cascades Works, a nonprofit and local workforce board, is responsible for finding innovative solutions to meet both the demand of industry and the needs of job-seekers. Like our partners, we have had to adapt quickly to the challenges COVID-19 has presented, finding new ways to deliver services aimed at equipping our workforce with the tools they need for the jobs most in demand today. Partnering with Central Oregon Community College as a possible training provider, and with Shift as to develop the technology and oversee deployment, coupled with the generous support from Facebook, enables us to more urgently and quickly meet the needs safely and aggressively, both for industry and our emergent workforce.

Facebook has been part of the Prineville community since breaking ground on their data center in 2010. For more information, visit facebook.com/PrinevilleDataCenter.



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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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