Current Suspected Overdose Deaths in Delaware for 2018: 236 logo

DHSS Press Release

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: May 4, 2017


New Castle County Vocational Technical School District, Nemours and Delaware Healthcare Facilities Association All Part of Project

WILMINGTON (May 4, 2017) - The Department of Health and Social Services' Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection (DLTCRP), New Castle County Vocational Technical School District (NCCVT), Nemours Children's Health System and Delaware Healthcare Facilities Association (DHCFA) are collaborating on a project for high school students who are certified nursing assistants to intern in Delaware's skilled nursing facilities.

"As we continue to develop a pipeline for our future health care workforce, this partnership is a great model for the state and other organizations on how to start that pipeline in our high schools," said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. "We anticipate this program will demonstrate the powerful ability to support our local high school students' continued success with internships that will enhance their work ethic and their dedication to our fast-growing aging population."

Yvette Santiago, Director of Operations, Delaware Valley Government Relations at Nemours and New Castle County Vo-Tech School Board President, said, "Cooperative education is a unique educational opportunity that integrates academic and career-training programs with paid, planned and supervised work experience in the public and private sectors." Added Vicki Gehrt, New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent, "Co-op allows students to acquire additional career related skills by being exposed to the world of work, thus enhancing their self-confidence and career goals."

Gehrt said co-op employers understand that eligible co-op students meet and exceed established academic, vocational/technical and employability criteria and that co-op gives them a direct link to highly qualified employees with vocational training. Co-op students who are in apprentice-based trades find that they may qualify for advanced credit toward their apprenticeship certification. That comes in addition to providing the students with a meaningful transition from school to work. Studies have shown that students who participate in co-op are more likely to continue to be employed in career-related employment after graduation from high school.

"This collaboration will benefit residents' day-to-day lives immensely," said Mary Peterson, director of DHSS' Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection. The division is determined to see nursing home residents reach their highest level of functioning. "Having our high school CNAs work in Delaware will help with retention of staff and forge a commitment with a facility and their residents," Peterson said.

Yrene Waldron, executive director of the Delaware Healthcare Facilities Association, had representatives from schools in the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District, speak to her members about having their CNAs complete co-ops in their skilled nursing facilities. School representatives created a video for association members that showcased their students.

In September 2017, the Healthcare Facilities Association will host a trade show at which representatives from long-term care facilities, hospice, hospitals, home health care, colleges and private corporations will learn about the co-op opportunity that New Castle County Vo-Tech offers.

Renee Purzycki, Social Service Chief Administrator of the Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection, said the New Castle County Vo-Tech staff will reach out to Dan Cohen of Music & Memory to learn how their CNAs can receive certification and Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in this program. Music & Memory is designed to enhance the quality of life particularly for nursing home residents who suffer with dementia. "This certification will assist in making high school CNAs more marketable, as well as give them added experience working with residents with dementia," Purzycki said. The division has been implementing the Music & Memory Program in skilled nursing homes since January 2017.

Additionally, division trainer Barbara Webb, MS, will work with New Castle County Vo-Tech to explore how classes regarding activities in long-term care facilities can be integrated into the CNA instructional program.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.