Homegrown

Sept. 21-27,2006
Homegrown
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center offers LPN training program

Colleen Kulak, a former parish administrator at St. Cecilia’s Church in Solvay, is doing something she has always wanted to do — she is working as a graduate practical nurse at St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center. With St. Cecilia’s parishioners and pastor Father George Hartnett behind her, Kulak enrolled in St. Camillus’ innovative licensed practical nurse training program last September. She graduated from the 10-month program on Aug. 25. “Father Hartnett and my parish were very supportive and encouraging,” said Kulak.

In late 2001, the St. Camillus LPN training program was created and is administered jointly with Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES with the intention of meeting the need for more skilled nurses. Director of St. Camillus human resources Chad Goodman devised the program to elevate more of the facility’s certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and home health aides (HHAs) into a professional nursing career. St. Camillus is the only area nursing facility to offer an on-site, LPN training program. A BOCES instructor teaches the class, which meets Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A total of 58 students have successfully completed the training program since it began.

The classes are also open to employees of other area nursing facilities. The other facilities such as James Square Nursing Home and Syracuse Home pay their employees’ tuition, which is close to $7,000, as does St. Camillus. In return, the students must work for St. Camillus, St. James and Syracuse Home for three years after receiving their licenses. Students are also paid half their salary during the time they are enrolled in the program.

Kulak said she feels extremely grateful to St. Camillus for giving her the opportunity to be educated as a nurse. “I always wanted to be a nurse,” she said, “but I never had the means or education to do it. I’m grateful for my wonderful instructor, Carol Vigliotti — I owe a lot to her.”

Julie Donnelley is also a August graduate practical nurse at St. Camillus. When she applied for acceptance to the LPN training program, she was working at St. Camillus as a home health aide. She believes the training she received gave her a good introduction to nursing. “It increased my ability to help patients in a larger capacity,” Donnelley said. “It’s a wonderful program.”

St. Camillus’ sixth LPN training class started Sept. 6 with 27 students enrolled — the largest class yet. The class is comprised of six St. Camillus, two James Square, one Syracuse Home and 18 BOCES students. Instructor Carol Vigliotti, who will be teaching the class for a second year, said her position is rewarding. “I like shaping the students into nurses,” Vigliotti said. “This program is a good stepping stone for a career. It’s a great opportunity.”

Vigliotti said the program could be intense and difficult, with a curriculum that is comparable to a registered nurse program. The students study medical terminology, basic math, nutrition, pharmacology, microbiology, infection control, mental health, basic nursing skills, geriatrics, anatomy and physiology. In addition, students study the disease process for each system of the body, surgery, and finally, pediatrics and maternal newborn nursing.

As part of St. Camillus’ LPN training, Donnelley and Kulak, along with other recent graduates, are now involved in three months of orientation to clinical experience before they take the LPN board exam. They have each been assigned a “preceptor” — a nurse who serves as a mentor. “This has been extremely supportive,” remarked Donnelley. “I enjoy working for St. Camillus. The staff is wonderful.”

Will Wallak, public relations coordinator at St. Camillus, said with the inception of the LPN training program, the nursing facility has better staffing and provides responsive and timely nursing care that has been enhanced greatly. St. Camillus views its LPN program as an investment in the future of its employees and also an investment in quality of care at St. Camillus.

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