Six months ago, New Britain residents Donna Huie and Alowin Patterson had never met. Now, they feel as if they are almost sisters, thanks to the grant-funded certified nursing assistant program they recently completed through Hartford HealthCare Senior Services, based in Southington. Patterson learned about the CNA course online. Huie had learned about the program from a fellow church-goer who had completed the CNA course. However, it wasn’t until she was accepted that she realized she would have to find transportation to Southington and Newington, the two locations where the classroom education and clinical training classes were. After meeting at orientation, the two students learned they only lived two minutes apart. Soon Patterson was giving regular rides to Huie, enabling her to take the training. It was just one example of how the team of 11 CNA students bonded, embracing their diversity. The youngest student, Zoe Nordin, is 18 while the oldest student, Andrea Lattanzi is 60. The participants were dedicated, with one commuting almost one hour each way. “We really became a team,” said Mary Ellen “Mell” Hobson, RN, MSN, contracted program coordinator and instructor, during the June 7 ceremony held to celebrate the 140 hours of training. “You are a great group of caregivers. You shared your strengths and worked hard together.” Classroom training included basic human physiology and anatomy, and a variety of required nurse aide skills. In the various healthcare settings, the students worked beside CNAs to learn more about providing hands-on, personalized care and observing day-to-day changes while learning about bathing, feeding, toileting and organizing tasks. The next step is taking and passing the Connecticut Certified Nurses Aide Exam after which they can enter the work force in a variety of settings including assisted living, long-term skilled nursing and short-term rehabilitation. Among the Hartford HealthCare Senior Services professionals attending the event was Susan Vinal, executive director of Jefferson House, whose endowment funded the CNA training program. Several students said they decided to enter the healthcare field because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of others and saw the program as the gateway into a new career. Lattanzi, who is retired from Aetna, said she saw it as a perfect opportunity to perform meaningful work that can be fit around her schedule. In a role reversal, it was her daughter, a Hartford HealthCare at Home employee, who attended her graduation.
This is the fourth group to complete the free CNA training program which is funded by the Jefferson House Endowment. Applications are being accepted until July 1 for the next session to begin in September. For more information about future classes, email CNAtraining@hhchealth.org or call 860-406-9050.