DEPARTMENTS TAX OFFICE
Photo by Carolyn Heads
By: Susan Passmore
Anxious to put their skills to good use, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) students in Carolyn Heads’ classes at Robert E. Lee (REL) and Ross S. Sterling (RSS) high schools responded to the need for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 crisis by accepting positions at two local facilities.
Having earned the required 40 hours for Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification at nursing/rehabilitation centers as well as completed 60 classroom hours, these 16 seniors, who have been unable to take the state CNA exam due to closure orders, received certificates of completion for the CNA course from their teacher and set out to make a difference.
“I don’t know what we would have done without them,” said Lisa James, director of nursing at Rollingbrook Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Baytown. “Our new policy is that staff can only work at one facility, so we lost some employees. They’ve helped tremendously, and the residents enjoy the young energy of the students.”
REL students Jocelyn DeLaCruz, Arisbeth S. Garcia, Tiffany Joya, Lucy Ramos, Carlos Rangel and Antonia Loredo as well as RSS students Zachary Charalampous, Lacey Fischer, Alayna Henry, Vanessa Hernandez, Kaylie Hollaway, Monserrat Lopez, Harlie Rucker Logan Runnels and Iris Sanchez work at the Rollingbrook facility. Mya O’Neal from REL works at Allenbrook Healthcare Center.
Heads works part-time at Rollingbrook Healthcare Center, so she sees them in action and is proud of her students, most of whom plan to pursue a career in nursing or another healthcare field.
“They have really helped to fill the gap left by employees leaving the facility,” Heads said.
“Some of my students work for the experience, but others work because their parents aren’t working right now.”
According to James, all 15 students she supervises are functioning as CNAs. While she tries to pair each of them with an experienced CNA, sometimes two students work together.
“We provide extra education by having a clinical RN take them to a classroom to go over some things they need to know,” James said. “They all have done an amazing job!”
Safety protocols include no visitors for the residents, so having the young workers there to talk with and help them out is key, especially during this time when so many of them are lonely.
Zachary Charalampous is enrolled at Lee College, but he plans to travel some before settling down to pursue a degree as a genetic counselor.
“I love all the residents and my co-workers,” Charalampous said. “I like helping people, and I have a good bond with them. They always ask about me, and it makes me feel good. Our supervisors call us ‘the first line of defense’ and say they would be running around like chickens with their heads cut off if we weren’t there to help them.”
Monserrat Lopez enjoys working at the Rollingbrook facility and has developed a relationship with the residents. She has enrolled at Lee College for a summer course, although she plans to attend a four-year university to major in neonatal nursing.
“I love working here. I also feel like I’m helping my family by working, since I’m able to pay some of the bills,” Lopez said.
James realizes that the facility may eventually lose most of these students as they pursue their goals, but she is pleased they are able to make a difference for the residents now as well as gain some valuable experience.
“We know this is just a beginning for them. It’s not their last stop, but we’re glad they’re here,” James said.
Consolidated Independent School District
4544 Interstate 10 East | Baytown, Texas 77521 | 281.420.4800
P.O. Box 30 | Baytown, Texas 77522 | 281.420.4800
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