For several weeks this spring, the hard-working Certified Nursing Assistants at the Comprehensive Care Center were followed just about everywhere they went.
As they tended to CCC residents, delivered supplies or set up for meal time, the CNA’s had shadows.
It wasn’t anything ominous -- their tag-alongs are part of the newest Nursing Assistant Training Program class at the skilled nursing facility. After two weeks of intense shadowing to learn about the day-to-day job, the students took eight weeks of coursework.
Eventually, they will take a state exam designed to earn them CNA certification. While in the program, the students earn minimum wage. “Certified Nursing Assistants are at the heart of resident care,” said CCC Administrator Katie Ellis. “They create a meaningful relationship with their residents, which fosters trust, compassion and an improved quality of life.”
The training program allows the CCC to hand-pick candidates that exhibit integrity and a caring and benevolent personality, she adds.
“The students learn in a classroom setting and then have the opportunity to implement skills within the facility without delay,” Katie notes. “The residents enjoy witnessing the professional growth of the students. This leads to student success and additional caregivers for our residents and our community members.”
The students represent a broad cross-section of the community – some are in their early 20s, and others are a few decades older. Many are parents, and a large number previously worked in various home-health or elder care jobs.
Student Cassandra Morales, a 2008 Cabrillo High School grad, worked for three years at LVMC as a patient attendant in the Emergency Department. “I like helping people,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to go into the medical field. I just wanted to expand and grow more. I thought this would be a great opportunity.”
Acceptance to the course was extremely competitive, with several hundred applicants screened.
The students are Nina Barnes; Raymond Clancy; Ryenne Clancy; Naomi Cordero; Carlos Flores; Daniel Goodwin; Kayla Kozlowski; Lorena Martinez; Madeline McDonough; Ashunta McMillan; Cassandra Morales; Maryfrances Morales and Alexis Reyes.
Director of Staff Development Myralda Hulsizer, LVN, is the instructor for the program. She and other CCC staff conduct lectures, show videos and do hands-on demonstrations.
Myralda is hopeful that she is inspiring the students through her teaching. “I hope I can make these wonderful students caregivers with the best skills possible,” she says. “This is their first step towards their healthcare career, and it starts with me.”
Alexis Reyes wanted to try for the course because many of his family members are already in the medical field. “It’s been really good,” said the 2014 graduate of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. “The information My has been providing us helps us in the facility.”
Throughout the course, there is clinical training, working directly with residents in the facility. Course subjects include subjects such as the application of body mechanics; bed making; catheter care; oxygen therapy; physical restraints; postmortem care; residents’ rights; vital signs; nutrition intake and an output; infection control; patient hygiene care and more.
Sibling duo Raymond and Ryenne Clancy both applied for the course without knowing their sibling had done the same. They have both worked with adults with developmental disabilities – Raymond at a work training program and Ryenne at a group home. Their mother, Cara Sims, is a lead laboratory assistant at the acute hospital.
Raymond was seeking more of a hands-on job, and after just a few weeks at the CCC, he thinks he’s found his calling.
“It’s so much more personal, and you get to build more of a relationship,” he says. “The P.M. shift is my favorite. The bedtime aspect is so personal. You are the last person they see before they go to sleep.”
The 22-year-old initially thought he’d try to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse. However, now he says he’ll stick with the CNA career. “It was eye-opening in the beginning, but I’m still here,” says the 2013 Cabrillo High School graduate.
His sister has worked in a board and care home for adults for several years but also wanted more interaction. “I love the residents,” the 2015 Cabrillo grad said. “I like getting to know the people and the little things they like and building that relationship. That’s why I like it here.”