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Sponsoring a nurse assistant in training — a good investment in Nevada County’s elder care

Cory Fisher
Staff Writer
From left, last spring's Certified Nursing Assistant trainees Terri Pixley and Karann Randlall practice taking tempuratures in a classroom at Spring Hill Manor Rehabilitation and Convalescent Hospital in Grass Valley.
Submitted by Una Kobrin |

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A free preparatory information night, necessary for enrollment in the certified nurse assistant training, will be at 5 p.m. on Aug. 26 at One Stop Career Center, 715 Maltman Drive in Grass Valley.

For more information and to download an application, visit  http://www.schoolofcare.org  or call 530-278-5015.

The School of Care had a vision, then a plan — and it worked. The Nevada County nonprofit resource center — whose mission is to create and promote high-quality care for those in need — launched its first nurse assistant training program last spring.

The inaugural class graduated in April, and all those certified nurse assistants, or CNAs, are now gainfully employed in Nevada County.

The young people need jobs, the seniors need care — it’s a winning combination, said Una Kobrin, School of Care’s executive director, that’s why the CNA program has applied for state funding from the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, which will go toward tuition costs for low-income CNA students.

Having established itself as a high-caliber program, the future student grants are “highly likely to be approved by the state,” said Kobrin. However, there’s a hitch: the application takes a year to process because the state is backlogged with applicants. That leaves this fall’s CNA students without tuition assistance.

Last spring, in an effort to launch the program, a number of skilled nursing and convalescent facilities sponsored students, who are now employed. This fall, the program is scrambling to cover costs until the state funding is approved.

Many students who seek out the training are not in the financial position to pay the $1,850 tuition, added Kobrin, yet once they get through the program they are finally able to earn a living wage.

“We’re hoping organizations or people out there will be willing to sponsor a student or two,” she said. “We’re hoping to have 10 students, which would amount to a total of roughly $18,500.”

The 11-week training program begins in September, with a pre-orientation meeting scheduled for Aug. 26 at the One Stop Career Center in Grass Valley.

Skilled nursing facilities in the area speak highly of the new CNA graduates who are now working for them, and, in light of the area’s looming “silver tsunami,” administrators see the program as an ongoing asset to the community.

It also provides valuable experience, which can be a stepping stone toward advanced health careers, such as a licensed vocational nurse or registered nurse. Several School of Care graduates have already decided to become RNs, added Kobrin.

“The caliber of training for the CNAs in this program is excellent, which is why we hired them,” said Peter Stack, admissions director at Wolf Creek Care Center in Grass Valley, a transitional and rehabilitation hospital.

“They’re special — you can see it. It’s always good to find dedicated CNAs because they’re on the front lines of healing and care giving.”

Terri Martin, director of staff at Spring Hill Manor, a Grass Valley convalescent and rehabilitation facility, said their two new CNA graduates came to the job with knowledge and skill, and were able to perform duties with a standard of excellence.

“We’re so pleased with the quality,” she said. “I can’t say enough about these graduates.”

Classes for the next session begin Sept. 3, and organizers are in the throes of a last-ditch effort to cover costs until state grant funding is approved. This year’s program has been expanded to include more time for skills practice and exam preparation.

The need for CNAs in Nevada County is expected to grow quickly in the coming years. By the year 2020, 71 percent of residents are projected to be age 60 or older, according to the Area 4 Agency on Aging. Programs such as this one are attempting to stay ahead of the curve while providing much-needed jobs.

“School of Care combines educational and skills excellence while modeling a caring relational approach,” said Kobrin.

“This can be an extremely rewarding career choice and Nevada County needs CNAs. This program is for the good of all. At this critical time, getting the word out can make the difference of whether we sink or swim.”

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at cfisher@theunion.com or call 530-477-4203.

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