Home health aide graduates honored at STCC ceremony
The final cohort of home health aide graduates recently received their certificates during a ceremony at Springfield Technical Community College. A state grant that supported the training ended this year.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Home Health Aide Program at Springfield Technical Community College has given Rhonda Skinner more than just skills to care for the elderly and people with disabilities.
“When I walked through that door my life changed,” said Skinner, of Springfield, one of 18 graduates who were honored with certificates at a ceremony on July 7. “All of it has impacted my life more than I thought it would. It’s made me stronger. I thought I was confident before, but now I’m even more confident.”
Skinner and her classmates received certificates after successfully completing a program administered by Training and Workforce Options (TWO), a collaboration between STCC and Holyoke Community College.
The program was supported by a 2016 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Training Resources and Internship Networks (TRAIN) Program. Because the grant ended this year, Skinner’s class represented the fourth and final cohort of TRAIN home health aide graduates.
It is one of the highest demand occupations not only in the Springfield area, but throughout the Commonwealth.Dr. Arlene Rodriguez, Vice President of Academic Affairs at STCC
Sharon A. Grundel, director of Healthcare Training Development for TWO, said she hopes the state will revisit funding for the program. While a stand-alone course is not currently offered, anyone seeking training as a home health aide can enroll in the Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) Plus Program at STCC.
Grundel said 50 people graduated from the four cohorts, and the majority of them have landed jobs.
The graduates are highly sought after by employers, said Dr. Arlene Rodriguez, Vice President of Academic Affairs at STCC.
“It is one of the highest demand occupations not only in the Springfield area, but throughout the Commonwealth,” Rodriguez said.
Lisa Gentile, RN, nurse case manager from Porchlight VNA/Home Care in Chicopee, said her agency has hired several of the program’s graduates.
“There’s a huge demand,” Gentile said. “Within the next 10 years, we won’t have enough caregivers to meet the need. We’re constantly working on filling our schedule every day. The referrals just constantly come in, and we’re struggling to meet the need. It’s not just us. It’s every home care agency.”
While some were new to the field, other graduates had been working as home health aides or personal care attendants and needed certification. All participants received OSHA-10 Certifications, National Career Readiness Certificate preparation and testing, First Aid and CPR certification. They also received career pathway advising about the health care industry – especially how an entry-level position such as a home health aide or personal care attendant can lead to job and wage advancement.
Gentile called the Home Health Aide Program at STCC “super important” to agencies like Porchlight because it provides valuable training and produces quality employees.
“We just hired some from the last class,” she said. “You can just see they’re a notch above the rest. They’re worth their weight in gold.”
About Springfield Technical Community College
Founded in 1967 and located on 35 acres of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, STCC is a major resource for the economic vitality of Western Massachusetts. As the only technical community college in Massachusetts, STCC, an Achieving the Dream Leader College, offers a variety of career programs unequalled in the state. STCC’s highly regarded transfer programs in business, engineering, liberal arts, science and technology continue to provide the most economical options for students pursuing a four-year degree. With an annual enrollment of more than 8,500 day, evening, weekend and online students, STCC is a vibrant campus rich in diversity.
For more information about STCC, visit www.stcc.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@S_T_C_C).
Jim Danko, (413) 755-4812, firstname.lastname@example.org