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Donation Ensures Microbiology Courses Continue

Autoclave PhotoThe purchase of a new autoclave, with funding from the Olney Central College Foundation, ensures OCC can continue offering microbiology courses in the future.

“Autoclaves are required for all Biosafety Level II labs, utilizing organisms which are opportunistic,” said Life Science Instructor Sarah Bergbower. “The organisms do not normally cause disease in people, but if mishandled, they could pose a moderate hazard. It is a required safety measure to sterilize and kill cultures when you are finished working with them.”

The autoclave uses a combination of high pressure and high heat to sterilize and kill living cultures and other bio-hazardous materials. The new system also provides a built-in safety measure, which records conditions inside the unit at all times to ensure the unwanted cultures are destroyed. The new equipment replaces an older unit, which had been in place for many years.

“We were having problems with it,” Bergbower said. “The indicators were failing, which meant that the cultures were not being sterilized as they should.”

The general microbiology course is required for nursing students and is the only class where they have an opportunity to work with the infectious organisms found in a hospital lab. During the class, students employ the same methods utilized in a lab to identify the organisms.

“We are preparing future nurses, doctors, and researchers who need this experience. We simply would not have been able to offer the class at the same magnitude without this necessary equipment,” Bergbower said. “The Foundation came to the rescue. I am beyond grateful.”

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