In an effort to lift the pressure off of the state’s overburdened hospital systems due to the winter surge of COVID-19 cases, Delaware Technical Community College (Del Tech) has partnered with Cadia Silverside staff to provide Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) training for members of the Delaware National Guard. 

Over the past few weeks, the Directors of the Delaware Division of Healthcare Quality, Corinna Getchell and Denise Elliott visited several Cadia facilities to personally thank members for their service providing care in our state’s long term health homes.

Governor John Carney also made a personal visit to Cadia Healthcare Silverside on Friday to thank members of the Guard for their service and to express his gratitude.

“I especially want to thank all of Delaware’s health care workers who continue to work on the front lines of this crisis. The best thing we can do to support them is to remain vigilant – and do what works. After two years of this pandemic, we all know what to do. Mask up in public places to protect yourself and vulnerable family members. Get your vaccine. And get a booster if you’re eligible. That’s the best way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization.”

The National Guard and frontline health care workers have been a shining light in this difficult time. Their goal was twofold: alleviate the crowded, chaotic situation due to COVID-19 as well as keep hospital staff who had been exhausted from coming into work safe by ensuring they have what they need when it matters most- they accomplished just that.

“Given the pandemic and the vacancy and the shortage that we’ve seen throughout the state of Delaware,” Michael Sayre, Chief Nursing officer said. “The Guards have been the most helpful that we could possibly ask for given the situation. We are very grateful to the State of Delaware for orchestrating their assistance during these times.”

In a stroke of genius, Del Tech partnered with Delaware National Guard to provide certified nursing assistant training. The company was able to reduce their ten week course down into two short weeks. Over 100 National Guard members participated in the accelerated program. The guardsmen then had to pass an exam in order for them to start working as fill-in caregivers, helping out employees who were sick with COVID.

Private 1st Class Jacob Barber,a military police officer, is working alongside the Cadia Silverside staff.

“It’s definitely harder than I thought it would be. The class we took for CNA certification was shortened from twelve weeks to eleven days. It was definitely a rushed process but my instructors and my peers made it very easy to transition.”

These men and women have learned how to do everything from clearing bedpans, handling patient issues and communicating with nurses all the way up to transporting patients. They maintain a Whatever-It Takes mentality and will do whatever their jobs require of them without question.

Some of the troops that completed the CNA qualification at Del tech either already had some training in this field or were planning to go into it, but many like Private 1st Class Charles Nelson, volunteered out of a sense of duty.

“I feel like this is the reason why I joined the National Guard. I feel like this is the selfless service aspect of being a soldier and I am definitely fulfilling that duty. The people who do this job have some of the biggest hearts I have seen,” he said.

According to Gretchel, the CNA training these troops have received will give them an opportunity to continue a career in healthcare, if they so choose. They may even be offered jobs at the facilities where their service was demonstrated!

In an effort to show appreciation to the Delaware National Guard, Governor John Carney along with Director Corinna Getchell and Deputy Director Denise Elliott paid them personal visits to thank their service with certificates of appreciation.

“We are just so honored to be here with you. You all volunteer for this mission not having any background in healthcare and this is not an easy job to do all. I am just so proud of all of you that you accomplished this in such a short time and we are so grateful to have you here,” said Division of Health Care Quality Division Director Corinna Getchell during the appreciation ceremony.

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