Coliseum reopens skilled care unit with private rooms

Coliseum Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center reopened its Monroe unit on Tuesday morning. The wing will add 30 private rooms for skilled care. The occasion was marked by a ribbon cutting ceremony, with remarks from Virginia Health Services Vice President of Operations Don Lundin and Coliseum Administrator Dudley Haas. The ribbon was cut by the Monroe unit’s CNA.

“I’m so proud that after six or seven months, we can reopen our skilled unit and allow our staff to get back to some normalcy and be able to provide the services and the help and assistance that we need, not only to our Residents, but to our team,” Haas said.

Coliseum hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to reopen its skilled care unit.

Coliseum hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday to reopen its skilled care unit.

The dedicated skilled care unit recently got a face-lift. The Coliseum team worked hard in advance of the unit’s grand reopening, cleaning, restocking the nurses’ station and med carts, and sprucing up the rooms.

“These last several months with COVID have really taken a toll on everybody,” Lundin said, “and it’s really put all of us on the defensive to try to react to it and manage it. …

“Today is a milestone. We’re really turning a corner to put us on the offense. We’re here to recognize that and celebrate it. The entire team worked so hard to get the Monroe unit up and running again.”

Eleven current Residents made the move to the skilled unit Tuesday, their things packed up and moved overnight by Coliseum team members so the Residents’ rooms were ready ahead of their arrival.

Haas shared with the gathered crowd that her team is why she comes in to work every day.

“I’m proud of everyone in this building who come together as a team for everything that comes up,” she said.

Virginia Health Services celebrates CNA Week

Virginia Health Services invests in the education and growth of its CNAs with apprenticeship program

Virginia Health Services celebrates its Certified Nurses Assistants (CNAs) daily – and is thanking them during CNA Week, which begins June 17 and runs through June 23.

The week is dedicated to thanking the work of CNAs in VHS facilities, and those team members will receive lunches and other forms of recognition.

VHS is invested in its development of CNAs. While it always has offered training classes and employment opportunities, Virginia Health Services doubled-down on its commitment this year by offering an earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program.

VHS is participating in the Healthcare Apprenticeship Expansion Program (HAEP), which is funded with a Department of Labor Closing the Skills Gap Grant and has an emphasis on careers in senior living. Employer partners are reimbursed for a portion of their apprentice training costs.

A new cohort begins every five to six weeks, and two classes have graduated from the program from Care Assistants to Nurses’ Aides. Most are employed by VHS’s nursing and rehabilitation facilities as they prepare for the state certification exam to be a CNA.

The VHS education team aids in exam-prep with review sessions and other resources.

CNAs essential to long-term care

Apprentices check their cart stock while gaining their clinical experience at York Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center.

As VHS celebrates CNA Week, it recognizes the important role CNAs play in caring for Residents.

“They are essential to long-term care,” says instructor Nora Gillespie. “They are the eyes and ears for the nurses. They spend the most time with the Residents.”

VHS Director of Education Bryanna Rhodes said often CNAs are the first person a Resident sees in the morning and the last person they see at night. CNAs are responsible for grooming care, helping Residents dress and a host of skills that put them on the frontlines of Resident care.

“The students are invested in the Residents,” Gillespie said, “and the Residents are invested in the students.”

Revamped course

The state of Virginia recently updated and revised its training objectives for CNAs. Gillespie, Rhodes and instructor Ann Armstrong recently restructured the CNA training program to make it more visually engaging as they factored in how best to present a curriculum of nearly 400 pages to students.

“VHS has an excellent program. It’s a good way to launch your career,” Gillespie said.

Apprentices learn 22 skills and cover over 650 PowerPoint slides over the course of five weeks. The course covers laws of long-term care, HIPPA, COVID best practices, residents’ rights, safety, infection control and how care should be delivered.

They spend six days in a VHS facility to gain clinical experience.

The training is paid. The apprentices also become employees of VHS in that time, and there is continually room to grow and educational opportunities. The apprenticeship program pays for its participants to take the certification exam once their Nursing Assistant certificate is completed.

“It’s more than just a CNA class,” said Rhodes, “it’s an opportunity for growth and to gain experience.”

The apprenticeship class works on patient care, including how to change linens, with instructor Nora Gillespie.

There are several VHS employees who have advanced in the company after starting their careers as CNAs, including Walter Reed Administrator Bryant Hudgins and Coliseum Assistant Director of Nursing Princess Williams.

Benefits of Virginia Health Services apprenticeship

VHS offers the continuing education tools to make it possible.

Rhodes said VHS has relationships with several nursing schools, and it also offers tuition reimbursement.

“It’s more than getting a CNA in the building,” Rhodes said. “It’s a career with VHS.”

The class is just the beginning for students, Gillespie said.

And with smaller class sizes – limited by the state to 10 students per instructor – VHS’s education staff can really focus on the students and get to know them.

“The students are our coworkers,” Rhodes said. “We create an atmosphere of wanting our team members to succeed.”

The focus on students allows instructors like Gillespie and Armstrong to find what motivates them.

“You help them find the light within themselves,” Gillespie said.

The apprenticeship program also helps alleviate barriers to employment for the students. There is assistance available through Family Scholar House, which can offer resources and funds to help cover academic coaching, affordable housing, transportation, child care, emergencies and more. It is offered to those in the HAEP grant program at no additional charge.

Family Scholar House is available to apprentices throughout the course of the year of their apprenticeship.

CNAs have always been needed on the frontlines

CNAs have always been on the frontlines. The profession began around the time of World War I, and certified nurses’ aides with the American Red Cross worked alongside Army nurses to treat wounded soldiers.

Valedictorian Sabrina Baylor receives her certificate from instructor Nora Gillespie.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in health care to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029, adding about 2.4 million new jobs. The Bureau attributes the projected growth to an aging population and increased need in health care services.

The VHS apprenticeship program will expand. There are several opportunities being examined, including pathways for LPNs, and in pharmaceutical, dietary, housekeeping, and administration and leadership.

A new cohort of apprentices starts June 21, and it’s the largest class yet at 14 students on the Peninsula and Middle Peninsula.

Visit the Careers page to learn more and how to apply. Virginia Health Services has a continued need to add heroes to its frontlines.

If you see a CNA this week, remember to thank them for their care and service to a loved one.

Virginia Health Services CEO featured on podcast to discuss using analytics to elevate standards of senior care

Virginia Health Services President and CEO Mark Klyczek found a way to improve nursing home and rehabilitation facilities through incremental change. 

Those changes require sharing quality data, which is the key to raising a facility’s standard of care. Quality outcomes not only measure the care provided but also the satisfaction of Residents. 

On average, most facilities in the industry receive their evaluations with a six-month delay

Changing the system for the better

Klyczek decided he would not settle for a delay in providing the care Residents deserve. 

So he changed the system. 

If we’re not going to spend the right time finding what the real issue is, then you’re just always going to have that conversation which I dread, which is, ‘that’s just the way things are, and we’ve never been able to change this’,” Klyczek said during his appearance on the LTC Heroes podcast. “And I’m not interested in that conversation.”

Listen to the Klyczek’s conversation with Experience Care’s Peter Murphy Lewis with the player below:

Thinking big may pose challenges, but VHS’s president said he will always continue to push himself and his team “beyond what a nursing home should be able to do.” 

Klyczek decided to become more data-oriented and create his own system for checklists using Microsoft Excel. He created it while at Rochester Regional over the course of two-plus years. It’s a method he’s introducing and implementing now at Virginia Health Services. “I’m confident it can be replicated,” Klyczek shared on the podcast.

“I found myself saying,  ‘I’ve got to get ahead of the way that quality is reported in nursing homes if I’m going to have an impact,’ ” he recalled. “And, as it turns out, when we got ahead of it, we actually had a bigger impact than I ever thought we could.” 

Dedication to providing better care every day

The key to improving quality, according to Klyczek, is dedicating oneself to identifying the sources of error. 

“If we’re not going to be honest with ourselves about what the root cause is, and we come to a conclusion too quickly, we’re probably not going to solve the problem completely,” he said. 

He introduced a root-cause analysis tool developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). This includes an action hierarchy tool that Klyczek and the team use to make actionable and meaningful changes. He now finds it easier to develop checklists and protocols that help the facilities make steady progress in the quality of care they provide.

Actionable change means taking things “bite by bite,” Klyczek said.

He begins by tackling the problems that are off by just a single percent or less. After he notices the trends, he will approach the staff and ask: “What are the barriers? How do I help you improve pressure ulcers, because we’re seeing it happens more often with this type of patient?” Klyczek makes sure to get as much information to the Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) as possible to enable them to make the best decisions. 

“Because I can’t be there every day, and the nurse manager can’t be there every day, we depend on the CNAs and the LPNs to assume responsibility,” he said. 

Klyczek also provides his team with a data analyst, who then gives the Director of Nursing or Assistant Director of Nursing at every facility the tools they need.

It’s a hard job, he says, but a rewarding job to work in long-term care. You have to support the team to be successful.

Guest blog provided by the LTC Heroes team.

Second cohort of Virginia Health Services apprentices graduate to Nursing Aides

Virginia Health Services’ second cohort of Care Assistants graduated Friday at The Arbors at Port Warwick.

It is the second Virginia Health Services apprenticeship class. The earn-as-you learn apprenticeship program pays participants to take the classes and complete clinical work necessary to move from Care Assistants to Nursing Aides.

The graduates will take the state certification in about a month to qualify as CNAs.

A class of six started May 3, taught by Nora Gillespie at VHS’s Employment, Enrichment and Education (EEE) Center in Port Warwick. One student worked through the program with instructor Ann Armstrong at Lancashire Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center in Kilmarnock.

Participants had to learn 22 skills in 26.5 days. There were tests, lessons and hands-on work.

Virginia Health Services apprenticeship graduates

Virginia Health Services apprenticeship graduates take their seats during a ceremony June 4, 2021.

“It was very challenging, but they were up to the task,” Gillespie proudly told the graduates and their friends and families in attendance at Friday’s ceremony. “You did it, and you didn’t do it alone.”

In opening remarks, VHS Vice President of Operations Don Lundin congratulated the group, telling them, “There is so much need for what you are about to embark in. … It’s hard work. … It’s meaningful work.

“We are here to celebrate everything you are about to accomplish.”

Gillespie shared that the students bonded as a team.

“I’ve never had a class as focused as they were,” she said.

She shared sentiments about each graduate. Common threads included the team being compassionate, treating their patients with dignity and respect, and being organized and efficient.

Valedictorian Kimberlynne Watkins, a recent Hampton University graduate, said in her speech, “We started as mere strangers … but as we leave we’re taking more than a certificate with us. We have gained heart, compassion, diligence and so much more. … I’m proud to say I have made a friend in every single one of you.”

Watkins was also complimentary of Gillespie.

Virginia Health Services apprenticeship graduation

Virginia Health Services apprenticeship cohort valedictorian Kimberlynne Watkins and instructor Nora Gillespie.

“We can confidently say you fully prepared us to take on our roles as nursing aides. No matter what happens, we will always have your voice in our head guiding us.”

She also thanked program director Bryanna Rhodes.

Salutatorian Nicole Brown, Lawrence “Eli” Rhodes, Jasmine Smith, Sachae Simmons, Michelle Watts and Tanya Wiggins joined Watkins in receiving their certificates of completion, pins, name badges, flowers and VHS goodie bags.

They were joined by family and friends for a reception with refreshments at The Arbors, VHS’s independent living community.

Virginia Health Services Apprenticeship

The apprenticeship program is part of the Healthcare Apprenticeship Extension Program, which is partially funded by a grant from the Department of Labor.

A previous cohort graduated in April, and many are placed at facilities throughout Virginia Health Services’ network.

Three of Friday’s graduates are slated to be Nursing Aides at VHS’s James River Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center. Others are going to Northampton, York and Lancashire Convalescent and Rehabilitation centers.

“We’re excited to have you be part of our team,” Lundin told the graduates.

Virginia Health Services apprenticeship graduation

Virginia Health Services apprenticeship salutatorian Nicole Brown receives her certificate of completion and other goodies during a graduation ceremony June 4, 2021, at The Arbors at Port Warwick.

Careers with Virginia Health Services

Gillespie said the program is one of the best things VHS does.

The program provides the training and the pay, which is unusual. Gillespie said previously those interested had to take time off from other jobs to attend classes, and pay for the course. This flips the process on its head, making participating in Care Assistant training and advancement accessible to those who are interested.

It also provides employment opportunities, both during the training and as the apprentices continue through the program as Nursing Aides.

“The role of a CNA is the foundation of long-term care,” Gillespie said. “You know the residents better than anyone else. You add quality to their lives.”

Another apprenticeship class is slated to start June 21. Apprenticeship classes are ongoing throughout the year. Click here for the latest application.

VHS has a continual need for Care Assistants (CAs), Certified Nursing Aides (CNAs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs), and has positions available in all of its Peninsula locations. Visit the Careers page for details.