Area Students Complete CNA Certification Despite COVID

Five E2CCB Health Careers students were recognized for passing their Certified Nurses Assistant exams during a recent ceremony at the Hewes Educational Center. Pictured, from left, are Betty Hamrick of Ripley; Mary Lou Chimenti, Health Careers teacher at the Hewes Educational Center; Mia Morales of Jamestown; Michelle Stearns, Teaching Assistant; MaKayla Apthorp of Cassadaga Valley; Lori Poniatowski, Health Careers teacher at the LoGuidice Educational Center; and Brianna Harroun of Cassadaga Valley. Not pictured is Erin Wynn of Southwestern. Submitted photo

ASHVILLE — When NY on PAUSE went into effect, dozens of E2CCB Health Careers students relying on the certified nursing assistant certification exam to advance their careers in the field were left wondering what would become of their opportunity.

For many students enrolled in Career and Technical Education programming, skills and certifications earned while in high school lead to direct employment in the field. To ensure students had this opportunity, students enrolled in Health Careers at the Hewes and LoGuidice Educational centers were able to take a socially-distant summer school refresher program to prepare them for the CNA exam.

On Sept. 2, five students were celebrated for taking advantage of an opportunity and passing their CNA exam.

“This year, the students’ year was cut short and their review and practice from April to June was in a Distance Learning format,” said Lori Poniatowski, Health Careers teacher at the LoGuidice Educational Center. “They had to come on their own time for a two week intensive review over the summer, which was offered by Mary Lou Chimenti at the Hewes Center, prior to testing on Aug. 24.”

Students and families gathered for a pinning ceremony at the Hewes center, where students received their CNA pins and “survival kits.”

“That pin means a lot. You won’t always see it and you won’t always wear it, but it means you’ve accomplished something,” said Paul Mihalko, Hewes Educational Center principal. “Eleven out of the 12 programs here are essential workers, they’re at the top of the list. One of the CNAs wasn’t able to make the ceremony because she’s working and that’s our purpose. As parents, you want them to be independent; these young ladies are more independent than most students already and they just graduated. Take advantage of any training that comes your way because you know the benefit of it. Never stop learning.”

MaKayla Apthorp and Brianna Harroun of Cassadaga Valley, Mia Morales of Jamestown, Betty Hamrick of Ripley and Erin Wynn of Southwestern were honored during the ceremony. They join fellow CNAs Marlie Schmidt of Lake Shore and Liliana Parker of Dunkirk as students who earned their CNA through unconventional means this year.

Through a collaborative effort between E2CCB and Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Schmidt and Parker were both hired as temporary employees and were able to review, work and take their CNA certification exams.

“Due to COVID, our ability to test was delayed,” Poniatowski said. “CNRC offered our students temporary employment, review for their testing and the ability to test at their facility. They are now full-fledged employees at the facility.”


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