Local nonprofits enhance CNA education through scholarships for extended training
By LOIS KINDLE
The Rotary Club Foundation of Sun City Center recently issued $1,250 scholarships to two local healthcare aides who want to become certified nursing assistants. The Sun Towers Residents Association and American Businesswoman’s Association have funded a third.
“We wanted to help address the need for better educated CNAs (certified nursing assistant) in this community,” said Georgana Collins, Rotary board member and administrator for Hanson Services, a local home healthcare agency. “Currently, all someone has to do to become one is to take a quick online course that includes no practical training to get certified. We want to help change that.”
The scholarships were awarded to pay for a 130-hour CNA certification program offered by Hillsborough Community College, which includes 40 hours of hands-on clinical experience at a nursing home facility and hospital, said Craig Bobick, allied health officer for HCC’s Institute of Corporate and Continuing Education.
Classes are usually taught at HCC’s Ybor City campus, and the program has been offered a few times in the past at the SouthShore campus in Ruskin. But limited enrollment has made it impractical to continue to do so.
Now, through a partnership with the Rotary Club of Sun City Center and Sun Towers, HCC will once again offer the CNA program locally. Sun Towers is providing the space for the classes, which will take place three nights a week for the next two months. The Rotary Club of Sun City Center is committed to raising funds for additional scholarships, Collins said. The money for each award goes directly to HCC.
“We’re excited to offer the venue for prospective CNAs to take classes, receive hands-on training, and then offer immediate employment to those who are a good fit,” said Debbie Caneen, Sun Towers director of admissions.
Collins added Hanson Services is ready to offer immediate positions, as well.
Ranesha Young, of Brandon, 32, a single mother of two children, was named recipient of the Sun Towers/ABWA award. Currently a med tech who’s worked at Sun Towers for about three years, she wants to expand her duties to include all the things CNAs do and ultimately become a licensed practical nurse. She was thrilled and thankful, she said, to get the scholarship.
“I have so much fun working with the elderly and helping them,” she said. “My number one priority is the patients.”
Ruskin resident Wakina Taylor Johnson, 45, and Sherri Farr, 37, were selected by the local Rotary’s foundation as its scholarship recipients.
Taylor Johnson, a resident aide for the past year at Cypress Creek Assisted Living and Belvedere Commons of Sun City Center, said she also loves working with seniors, looks forward to expanding her responsibilities as a CNA and hopes to become an LPN one day.
“I’m very excited about the scholarship. I was in tears when I heard I was getting it,” she said. “I could never have afforded to take the course on my own. I so appreciate the Rotary’s help.”
Farr, a resident of Apollo Beach, has been a home health aide with Hanson Services for the past seven years.
Like the other women, she enjoys her work and hopes to go further into the healthcare profession as an LPN or “maybe a registered nurse.”
“It’s nice to be needed, and I’m really good at what I do,” she said about her job. “I was very surprised and extremely grateful to have been chosen. I’m a single mom, and I just got remarried last December. We couldn’t have paid for this ourselves.”
Certified nursing assistants provide important services to clients or patients at home or in healthcare facilities, and they’re especially critical in senior communities like Sun City Center. Their duties can include feeding, bathing and dressing; taking vital signs; serving meals, making beds and cleaning rooms; turning or repositioning those who are bedridden; answering calls; documenting and reporting health issues; helping with medical procedures; running errands; providing transportation and more.
“We need more and better-trained CNAs,” Caneen said. “Our hope is that other organizations will step up and provide scholarship funding for HCC’s CNA program. Anyone interested can call me at 813-892-2990, and I’ll hook them up with the right people.”
For information on the Rotary Club of Sun City Center Scholarship Program, call Collins at 813-545-3696.