By Patricia Ramsey, president and owner of the Edgewood Center
We were thrilled recently to see WMUR come on-site to shoot some video of the Edgewood Center to complement a wonderful story they ran on our own Allie Sgro. Allie epitomizes what it means to be a caregiver and her story of perseverance during a challenging time is an inspiration to us here. Given the ongoing need for more caregivers like Allie at our long-term care centers across New Hampshire, we believe she can be an inspiration to many more.
Allie came to the Edgewood Early Learning Center as a highly experienced childcare provider and just began working in our on-site childcare center when the pandemic hit. As many will recall, most everything shut down immediately and service providers such as childcare centers were required to stay closed for some time. We did not want to lose Allie, and Allie wanted to stay. She expressed a willingness to use her caregiving skills that had previously focused on children to supporting our adult population – and we embraced her interest wholeheartedly.
The challenge we – and all other providers faced – was an inability to conduct the training because it traditionally required direct clinical work that was not possible at the time. An emergency order at the federal level and an agreement to adopt the order at the state level allowed us to put Allie and others through the newly-created Temporary Health Partners (THP) program. Allie moved into a Temporary Health Partner position while she gained the on-site training necessary to work towards becoming a licensed nursing assistant (LNA), a license she is now proud to hold.
The WMUR piece captured Allie’s true joy of becoming an LNA and caring for adults with the same passion she had for children.
“I love it. I work in memory care in the dementia ward and I absolutely love it. It’s like a big family over there, staff too. It’s an adventure every day, you never know what you’re going to do,” Allie said during her interview.
As the grip of the pandemic appears to loosen and society eases back to many aspects of life we enjoyed pre-pandemic, one worry we had was about the emergency order that created the THP program and if or when it would expire.
Good news arrived in late June. Senate Bill 133, which would codify the THP program in state statute, passed the House and Senate and was signed into law on July 9 by Governor Sununu. We are glad to know that this State is will support the THP Program as a pathway for individuals to become Licensed Nursing Assistants. With the labor shortage so prevalent in all sectors of healthcare and other service industries, removing barriers to a career in healthcare is essential to the future of eldercare.
We know that the past 17 months have been highly challenging for many and our sector was hit very hard given the more vulnerable population that is under our care. Now, centers like us boast very high vaccination rates (#3 in the country for staff and #2 in the country for residents) for residents and staff and are among the safest places to work. However, we need more people like Allie to ensure that we can care for more individuals, including some who postponed seeking the higher level of care we provide due to the pandemic.
Allie’s story – and countless others I have heard over the years – demonstrate the true passion some have for caring for others. This is a message to those who would consider following in their footsteps. The long-term care community needs you. We will train you, help you get your license and welcome you into our family. A statewide resource that Allie participated in – NH Needs Caregivers – will even help place you. For those looking to enter the healthcare field, join the workforce for the first time or rejoin after this tumultuous 16-month period, becoming a caregiver is much more than a job. While challenging at times, the rewards and joy you bring to individuals is immeasurable.