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The Legacy needs qualified staff to care for more residents

I am frequently asked by members of the community about why there is a waiting list at The Legacy Living and Rehabilitation Center, and when the additional 20-bed wing will open. I understand their frustration, and believe me, nothing would make me happier than to be able to offer those rooms to local residents who need them and reduce our current waiting list of over 90 names.

Before construction on The Legacy had ever begun, CCH Administration and Board of Trustees gathered the best information they could to determine what size the facility should be. With the help of experts, it was determined that a facility with 160 beds would serve us well into the future.

We have those 160 beds now, but being able to fill them requires hiring qualified and appropriate caregivers. We will not compromise the safety of those we care for by either not having enough employees, or by hiring underqualified employees. Our residents are much too important to us. That’s why we have between 135-140 residents living at The Legacy now.

What can we do to make those additional beds available more quickly? Unfortunately the answer is not a simple one. We not only have to solve the current hiring problem, but develop a plan that will continue to help us continue to hire qualified employees in the future.

A big part of the plan is to make it easier for people to become Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), the entry into healthcare for many nurses and other caregivers. We pre-hire qualified applicants into a Care Assistant program and pay their wages while they are studying to become licensed. We offer Medication Aide training and CNA II classes to give employees a path to jobs with higher pay and opportunity for advancement. And Campbell County Health has an educational reimbursement program for employees who wish to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) and continue to work on call while they are going to school. More information on all of these programs, and when they are scheduled, is available on our website at www.cchwyo.org/classes.

We also work with CLIMB Wyoming, a nonprofit organization that provides job training for single mothers in the state. Two of their graduates are working at The Legacy now.

Recruitment is an ongoing activity both at The Legacy and at Campbell County Memorial Hospital. We regularly attend recruitment fairs to talk to nursing students about the opportunities in long term care, both at Gillette College and other schools across the state.

With an eye on the healthcare workers of the future, we expose young people to the potential of a career in healthcare though volunteering, either during the summer or as an internship or mentorship student with the Campbell County School District.

We are committed to opening more beds at The Legacy as soon as we can, but our priority is always to meet the needs of the residents who currently live there.

If you're interested in a career in health care, check out the job openings at CCH at www.cchwyo.org/careers.

This blog was written by Jonni Belden, RN, Vice President of Long Term Care