In hospitals and nursing homes, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are important members of the care team – and they’re in great demand locally and nationally.
“The CNA role is so important in the hospital setting because CNAs directly care for patients as part of the nursing team. They spend their workday observing, treating, and interacting with patients to serve their healing needs,” said Garrick Hyde, President of CHI St. Alexius Health Williston.
Becoming a CNA can start with a phone call to the TrainND program at Williston State College to find out more information. Too often, money is the reason the process stops there.
“For every 10 to 15 phone calls, I get one registration,” said Jennifer Nebeker, Train ND program coordinator/office manager. “The cost can deter people from the program.”
That’s going to change with a recent $40,000 donation from CHI St. Alexius Health.
“Supporting our community businesses and the future generations of healthcare is a priority for us at CHI St. Alexius Health Williston,” said Brittny Mayo, Foundation Coordinator at CHI St. Alexius Health Williston. “Our Foundation was only too happy to sponsor these rooms and help provide scholarship opportunities for the CNA students of TrainND.”
“This is huge because we can provide scholarships and get people into the program,” said Nebeker. “This will help students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the program.”
As the state’s most comprehensive and inclusive training network, TrainND serves North Dakota with diverse classes and training areas that serve virtually every industry with a single contact for their training needs.
The program has a long tradition of educating future CNAs, with Williston State College serving the northwest corner of the state.
Here, the TrainND CNA program typically occurs four times a year and includes challenge testing for two high school programs.
People who complete the program can make a competitive wage with benefits while doing work that makes a difference. “It’s people who want to make a positive change in their lives,” Nebeker said. Students like a woman named Ingrid.
“Her life’s dream is to be a nurse,” said Nebeker. “She’s not from the United States and she was working at Wal-Mart. She drove two hours to take the test, and paid to stay in a hotel. She was so grateful for the opportunity. When she passed the test, she openly wept. It’s her first step to being a nurse.”
There’s also people like a young man named Caleb. “He’s in an RN program in South Dakota. He’s using the CNA to help him get his RN training,” Nebeker said.
Each CNA course lasts two weeks.
“It’s 40 hours of online coursework they work on at their own pace over one to three months,” said Nebeker. Once that’s complete, there’s four days of skills training at Williston State College, followed by four days of clinical experiences at CHI St. Alexius Health and a local long-term care facility.
“Stacy Hauge is our CNA instructor,” Nebeker said. “She retired as an LPN from a long-term care facility after 35 years. Nursing is her passion and this is her way of giving back to the community without working full-time. She is so loving and so giving.”
On the fifth day, there’s the state test.
These are administered by Rhonda Peterson. “We could not run the program without her,” Nebeker said.
The testing aspect of the program also serves local high school students who take CNA coursework as part of their high school curriculum. “Because it’s not an accredited program, they are challenge testers,” Nebeker said. “They come to our facility and we test them.”
In total, TrainND will have 54 students go through the program this year, and an additional 20 high school students in spring and nine or 10 in December who will take the CNA test through the program.
“We are grateful for CHI St. Alexius Health,” Nebeker said. “They are a great community partner.”
“The impact of these funds is not lost on us and we were honored and excited to be asked to sponsor these rooms,” said Mayo. “Our Foundation is proud to help these students pursue their passions while alleviating financial strain and helping them to continue their career close to home.”
“Within a week of receiving our $40,000 donation, TrainND was able to use a small amount of the funds to help a student who experiences extreme financial hardship be able to afford the CNA exam. The fee would seem inconsequential to most, but it meant a great deal to the young lady who had a barrier removed from her path toward this certification,” CHI St. Alexius Health president Hyde concluded.
Pictured from left to right: Paula Lankford, Train ND board member, Brittny Mayo, Kenley Nebeker, Train ND Executive Director, Garrick Hyde, Jennifer Nebeker, Dubi Cummings, Train ND board member and Stacey Hauge.
About CHI St. Alexius Health
CHI St. Alexius Health is a regional health network with a unified mission: nurturing the healing ministry of the Church while creating healthier communities. In 1920 the sisters of mercy came to Williston in hopes of bringing healthcare to the community. 100 years later we are still serving their mission of providing health care through Christ’s healing ministry.
CHI St. Alexius Health is part of CommonSpirit Health, a nonprofit, Catholic health system dedicated to advancing health for all people. It was created in February 2019 through the alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health. CommonSpirit Health is committed to creating healthier communities, delivering exceptional patient care, and ensuring every person has access to quality health care. With its national office in Chicago and a team of approximately 150,000 employees and 25,000 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, CommonSpirit Health operates 142 hospitals and more than 700 care sites across 21 states. In FY 2018, Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health had combined revenues of $29.2 billion and provided $4.2 billion in charity care, community benefit, and unreimbursed government programs.