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First students join Wallingford CNA employment program

First students join Wallingford CNA employment program

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — Three Masonicare employees were honored at a luncheon ceremony Monday as the first enrollees in a new employment pipeline program.

CNA Reach is designed to attract health care facility workers into Wallingford Adult Education's certified nurse assistant program. It’s a collaborative effort by HUBCAP, Wallingford Public Schools, Gaylord Specialty Healthcare and Hospital and Masonicare.

Joe Mirra, founder and chairman of HUBCAP, said CNA Reach — which stands for Ready to Enter A Career in Health care — creates an employment ladder that gives people the opportunity to move ahead, opening up their former positions to others.

The CNA program began last week and runs for 16 weeks, with classroom work and hands-on experience at Gaylord and Masonicare.

Carol Berube, coordinator of Adult Ed’s medical programs, said students receive a certificate of completion that allows them to take the state’s nurse aide competency examination.

Tuition is $900, or $925 for out-of-town residents.

The three participants have diverse backgrounds but all want to pursue nursing.

Alexia Amenta, of Wallingford, has been a member of the Masonicare wait staff since August 2017. She’s in her first year at Gateway Community College, taking pre-requisite courses for nursing.

She is in the program to learn more about nursing in general, including the needs of the elderly.

“I’m really passionate about helping others,” said Amenta, 19. “After working here and getting to interact with the elderly, it made me kind of realize what path I want to go towards and be a geriatric nurse.”

Nadia Sannah, of Meriden, has been a housekeeper at Masonicare since September 2008.

Sannah, 47, came to the U.S. from Morocco in 2000. She heard about the program from a coworker.

“...I like to make people happy,” she said.

Sannah wasn’t around a lot to help her mother who died of cancer nine years ago.

"...if I see somebody (is) sick, I like to help them,” she said.

She added that she hopes to continue with her medical education after becoming a CNA.

The third participant, Tierra Garrett, joined Masonicare as a housekeeper in April 2019. She was unable to attend the luncheon.

Eight people applied for the program, and all three local people were accepted, said Samantha Buonanno of Masonicare human resources. The other five applicants live in Mystic, where Masonicare operates a senior care facility, and a CNA program for them is in the works, she said.

Gaylord, which has its own program to solicit employees, didn’t have any applicants for the initial cycle. The next CNA program at Adult Ed is slated for September.

Masonicare Vice President of Human Resources Ed Dooling, Masonicare President and CEO J.P. Venoit, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. and School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo spoke at the luncheon.
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