Editorial Roundup: State’s nursing assistant program should continue

Published 8:50 pm Friday, April 8, 2022

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More than a thousand new certified nursing assistants have been trained in Minnesota because of a state initiative to provide more staffing for hospitals, veterans homes and other long-term care facilities.

The initiative was particularly needed in the very tough times of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the training must continue to meet the constant demand for certified nursing assistants.

The need to fill those positions existed before the pandemic, was exacerbated by the pandemic, and will continue beyond it. The state estimates 15,000 open CNA positions exist throughout Minnesota.

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Clearly there’s still a long way to go to fix the situation.

The desperate need for CNAs isn’t unique to Minnesota or a new problem, but the pandemic’s toll on health care staffing magnified how quickly and intensely our health care system can be strained. So strained that National Guard units had to step in — 400 members — to help in health care settings at the height of the pandemic.

The launch of the initiative was made possible with a $3.4 million investment from the federal American Rescue Plan. Building a partnership between the state, the Minnesota State higher-education system, high schools and private training providers was essential to getting CNAs trained quickly and at no cost to the students.

A total of 1,278 Minnesotans participated in the initiative as of March and will be ready to work in permanent positions once they pass their certification tests, which are paid for by the state. Of those participants, 940 enrolled in free training courses offered by Minnesota State or a private training provider and 338 high school students accessed training through their districts.

The program is open to all Minnesotans who are 16 or older and able to work in the United States. The collaboration may become a model for other states.

Gov. Tim Walz’s budget proposal includes $6.7 million to continue the state’s CNA training program as well as an additional $13.3 million for fiscal year 2024-2025. It would be money well spent. Filling CNA positions frees up more highly trained health care personnel to attend to the more difficult tasks that need to be done. Our veterans, elderly residents and most vulnerable residents deserve professional attention at every level of care.

Mankato Free Press, April 4

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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