August 7, 2013


Teens get feel for medical careers

Hospital’s annual camp introduces high school students to profession


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Ninth-grade students Alexandria Hayden, left, and Kyra White, right, of Syracuse listen as Cortland firefighters talk about the role of heavy fire rescue equipment on Tuesday at Cortland Regional Medical Center’s MASH Camp.

Staff Reporter

A group of about 20 students from Cortland County and Central New York sat in the field next to the Cortland Regional Medical Center parking lot Tuesday afternoon in their medical scrubs eating lunch after responding to a nearby bus accident.
The accident was staged and the students were eighth- and ninth-graders participating in the 11th annual MASH Camp.
MASH is an acronym for Medical Academy of Science and Health and the camp is a program run by Central New York Area Health Education Center, or CNY AHEC, and funded by Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield through its Community and Member Health Improvement grant.
Students ages 13 to 15 hear about the program through school-based promotion and those who are interested sign up and are invited to the camp. This year, 15 different hospitals including Cortland Regional and roughly 300 students around the state participated in the program. Over the course of two days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the students see many of the hospital’s different departments such as the maternity ward, respiratory care, cardiac rehabilitation and even the laboratory and the morgue to learn more about them and what goes on there.
Program Organizer Lauren Shore is a member of CNY AHEC in Cortland and worked with the hospital to make MASH Camp possible for the students.
Shore said the mission of the camp is to give students a chance to learn about the health care system and to pique their interest in pursuing a career in the field. She added it was also a good way to show them hospitals are not all bad.
“It’s good exposure for them,” Shore said. “This is a good opportunity for kids to see hospitals aren’t a scary place.”
One of the more hands-on activities of MASH Camp happens when the students get the opportunity to test their mettle in a mock emergency situation.
“We did a simulation of a right-on-the-scene injury,” said Matt Pelowski, 14, of Cortland. “We heard a phone call and rushed over to the scene.”
After receiving the 911 call at the hospital, the group of students were brought outside to where a small bus was parked on the grass. Actors were covered in fake blood and made-up to look like they had sustained serious injuries and the students were responsible for tending to the wounded.
“In the beginning it was really interesting,” said Joanna Maressa, 13, of Camillus, Onondaga County. “There was a person hanging out of the bus; they had a head injury and there was blood.”
Maressa said although she does not think she would like being a paramedic, she says she wants to be a cardiovascular surgeon.
“I’m intrigued by blood and the heart,” Maressa said. “So that’s something I’d want to pursue when I’m older.”
Jacqueline Iacovelli, director of community and regional affairs for Excellus, says she supports MASH Camp is because it encourages students to join a profession that needs more dedicated people.
“Improving the health and health care of the residents of the communities we serve is core to our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” Iacovelli said, “If you take a local student; even if they go to school somewhere else, they’re much more likely to come back to practice. They’re going to be our doctors in the future.”


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