New nursing assistant program gets more people certified faster

Connecticut is facing a big nursing assistant shortage as COVID-19 numbers creep back up, but a new program is getting people certified and on the job faster.
Eva Villaronga, of Bridgeport, is getting her certified nursing assistant certification on the job.
"We are actually learning to be CNAs and how to be hands-on with the clients and to be able to assist the nurses," said Villaronga.
The first six CNA apprentices in the nation graduated Tuesday at Genesis St. Joseph's Manor, a nursing home in Trumbull. They can work there under an experienced mentor before they're fully licensed.
This may be the first class, but it certainly won't be the last. In January, three more nursing homes are signing on in the Hartford area, with 16 apprentices signed up. 
The state labor commissioner says Connecticut will need 2,000 CNAs each year.
"Registered apprenticeship is standard in industries like construction and trades, and always has been," said Dante Bartolomeo, interim labor commissioner.
Thanks to new contracts, they'll make more money.
"Under our contract here at St Joseph's Center, all CNAs will make no less than $20 an hour by 2024," said Jesse Martin, SEIU 1199NE vice president.
Villaronga just graduated and in two weeks, she'll be a full-time CNA.
A federal grant paid for the nursing assistant graduates' trainings.
On Wednesday, Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale New Haven Health System will launch a new apprenticeship training program for Patient Care Technicians, also the first in the nation. The program is funded by a $10 million federal grant through CTDOL's Office of Apprenticeship Training and will provide classroom learning and on-the-job training to 1,250 individuals over four years.