Program helps Great River Care Center bring in CNAs

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Thanks to a program developed at the end of last year through a partnership between Great River Care Center (GRCC) in McGregor, Elkader Care Center and the Edgewood Convalescent Home, the facilities were able to select, train and hire individuals to become certified nursing assistants (CNAs).

“We were seeing a shortage of CNAs in the area, so we all worked together to see what we could do to increase interest in the field,” said Great River Care Center Administrator Deanna Kahler.

Kahler described CNAs as the frontline workers at GRCC, providing important daily cares for residents.

“CNAs are there and see the day-to-day things,” she said. “They see and hear things that could sometimes get missed, and they know immediately if there are any changes.”

The state-approved CNA courses were taught over three to four weeks in Edgewood, which had the most space. Kahler said she and the other administrators interviewed candidates and selected those who they felt would be the most successful. 

Participants included women of various ages. Around 10 took part in the first course last year, including two from GRCC. This year, Kahler said three more from GRCC took part.

The class followed the same curriculum as other CNA courses, said Kahler; it was just taught in a shorter amount of time.

The ladies were paid throughout the course, clinicals and certification process. They also knew where they would work once the class was complete.

“When they knew they were getting paid and where they were going to work, it gave them a sense of belonging and accomplishment already,” Kahler remarked, mentioning that familiarity with the facility made the transition to a new job and career path easier for the CNAs.

Kahler said she enjoyed being part of the training process because it allowed the CNAs to ask her questions about GRCC.

“We got to know each other,” she said. “The connection was formed before they were on the floor.”

“It’s been a great thing to offer to people who didn’t think they had a choice because of time or finances,” she added. “We’re seeing very good success stories.”

Kahler said the course is good for the facility as a whole, including the staff and residents.

“We like to keep staff turnover low, so we bring in people to make a difference in peoples’ lives, not just for a job,” she said. “It’s definitely for someone who has caring and compassion. We become a family, so it’s important to have that in you.”

Kahler said another CNA course is not planned at this time, but could be offered as the opportunity presents itself.

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