BEND, OR -- Ten Certified Nursing Assistants in training just started at St. Charles, as part of a collaborative program with Central Oregon Community College.
Lisa Dolinar, with St. Charles, says CNAs play a critical role helping meet basic patient needs and keep them comfortable. "Several years ago, we were significantly short in that area," she tells KBND News, "It’s an entry level position, so it makes it challenging." In March of 2020 - just at the start of the pandemic - they launched a partnership with COCC to bring students into the hospital, condensing a 12-week class into an intensive and immersive six-week course. And Dolinar says, it’s working, "We’ve brought in 165 CNAs."
She says students not only have a job waiting when they complete the program, but their schooling is paid for by St. Charles. "The biggest benefit to that is the fact that we actually pay them. They’re really employees of ours. Yes, they’re training and they’re going through school, but they’re actually employees of ours for six weeks." And when they're done, the hospital gets to fill staffing needs, "They’ll work for us for two years total in the hospital, one year as a CNA. After their first year, if they decide, ‘ya know, I want to do something different in the hospital,’ they can transition." And Dolinar says many stay after that initial two-year commitment, "It’s about a 70% retention for these individuals. And some of those either move out of town [or] start the RN program and decide that they can’t do both, they can’t work at the same time."
There is a nationwide shortage of CNAs and Dolinar says St. Charles has received requests from other hospitals looking to launch a similar program.
After the summer session, the next cohort of 20 students begins in October. Applications are due by August 20th. Click HERE for more information.