State Health Commissioner Visits Batavia Vets Home to Congratulate CNA Graduates

Governor Pataki's "Capital for a Day" Brings State Government to Western New Yorkers

Albany, July 25, 2001 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. and New York State Veterans Home at Batavia Board of Visitors President Anthony Ferrarese today congratulated graduates of an innovative training program at the Home designed to increase the ranks of Certified Nurses Assistants (CNAs), address health care staffing issues and ensure continued high quality long term care.

Dr. Novello participated in a ceremony at the Veteran's Home during which ten new CNA graduates were honored for their successful completion of the unique program, which contracts with the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to provide CNA training and pays students while they learn. The training initiative, developed in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health, the Genesee Valley BOCES and the Civil Service Employees Association is also in place at the New York State Veteran's Home at Oxford and will be replicated at the Veteran's Home at Montrose, when that facility opens later this year. Based on its initial success, the training program could serve as a model for long term care facilities around the State.

"Thanks to Governor Pataki's vision and leadership not only do New Yorkers have the best health care in the nation, but we also have committed more resources than any other State to make sure that we continue to have the most highly qualified and professional health care workforce," Dr. Novello said. "The unique opportunity provided by this program, coupled with your own hard work, means that those of you who are graduating today will be able to follow your dream of a career that makes a real difference in people's lives. New York State and the Veteran's Home are proud of you and we offer you our most sincere congratulations."

Ten students at a time are trained during the 13–week (130 hour) program. The Veteran's Home recruits individuals who want to become CNAs, conducts the appropriate background checks, and if the candidates qualify for the program, puts them on the payroll. The trainees receive their classroom instruction at BOCES, followed by 32 to 37 hours of clinical skills training at the facility. Before being accepted into the program, participants agree to work for the Veteran's Home for at least six months after graduation, if positions are available.

Thus far, two training sessions have been held, with all of the participants successfully completing their studies. As a result of the program, and in spite of staffing shortages elsewhere, currently there are no CNA positions vacant within the Veteran's Home. Subsequent classes will be scheduled as needed. By hiring CNA trainees and contracting with BOCES to conduct classroom education, the Veteran's Home has been able to recruit people who would not have been able to pay for their own training, or who could not afford to give up a paying job to train for a new career.

"Our program has provided residents of the Batavia community the opportunity to continue their education and become an integral part of the health care profession. At the same time, it demonstrates to the community our commitment to maintain a sufficient, qualified workforce to provide a high level of care to our veterans, who deserve nothing less," Anthony Ferrarese said. "There's no question that the CNA program has been an unqualified success."

Health care staffing shortages are a national concern that New York State is aggressively addressing through an unprecedented financial commitment to help recruit, train and retain health care workers. Under Governor Pataki's leadership, New York has allocated more than $570 million to fund workforce programs throughout the State to help ensure that New York continues to have the most qualified and best trained workforce in the nation. Funds have been directed to recruit and train new staff, retain and retrain current employees, and enhance the skill levels of health care workers in essential jobs such as those held by nursing assistants, patient care technicians, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses.

7/25/01–88 OPA