CNA’s during COVID-19 Pandemic are certainly not having it easy. While we witness a global pandemic on a scale never seen before in recent history, front-line workers like doctors, nurses, and all other health care workers are bearing the tole of this pandemic. They are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 and CNA’s are no different.
CNA’s are providing critical care and assistance to the most vulnerable (ie: elderly) in nursing homes and hospitals. They have been working hard despite the danger of being exposed and affected by the coronavirus themselves!
Certified Nurse Assistants are skilled care professionals who are trained at registered colleges or centers and are taught various essential skills including first aid and how to assist their patients with daily tasks. These individuals receive certification before acquiring a position at hospitals, nursing homes, home health aide agencies, and other long-term healthcare facilities. CNAs have been working long shifts, tirelessly, and caring for patients especially the elderly at nursing homes and long-term healthcare facilities.
CNAs help patients with daily tasks that they are unable to complete themselves such as bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, taking vital signs, moving or transferring patients, observing and reporting any changes, assisting with other medical procedures such as drawing blood or checking their pulse and these amazing individuals even read books or stories to their patients and play games with them to entertain them and ensure that their mood is lifted!
Certified Nurse Assistants usually work under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN). Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses maintain the patient’s overall condition and they supervise CNAs. They also provide counseling and guidance for CNAs in various areas.
Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses transfer activities to CNAs, for example, observing and recording the changing condition of a patient or taking vital signs such as checking their pulse or drawing blood. The CNAs need to be well trained and skilled in order to be able to perform these tasks while RNs and LPNs are completing other tasks.
CNAs work an average of 32-40 hours a week, however, during this pandemic they have had to work for longer hours for low pay. Some were even at the risk of being laid off since the daily medical processes were canceled while other facilities reported that their nursing assistants worked in collaboration with nurses and other staff, assisting in caring for patients and therefore minimizing the number of cases.
A recent study shows that nursing assistants have taken this situation positively and with the right equipment and resources, they have managed to do their jobs. Nurse assistants have even taken up new responsibilities including constant sanitization and other new processes.
The situation was truly challenging and there were a number of stresses including arranging extra equipment, room space, getting more medication, etc. all while the cases continued to rise but CNAs stayed strong and united! They gave it their best and also remembered to take care of their own health!
CNAs are taking time to relax and breathe between shifts, meditation and taking deep breaths, relaxing and resting while at home, eating the right food, and drinking lots of fluids (water, juice, etc.). Most importantly, CNAs stayed positive and united! Taking care of their own health is essential in order to best care for their patients.
CNA’s during COVID-19 Pandemic and why some CNA’s chose to stay at home during Covid-19
CNAs never have it easy! Their roles in general require them to work long hours where they get exhausted but continue to work hard to bring a smile to the faces of their patients! However, the coronavirus pandemic made it tougher and CNAs became more vulnerable to the virus. Some continued to work their shifts while others chose not to work in order to avoid the risk of being affected.
CNAs, just like everybody else, have families of their own and one of the reasons they chose not to work is for the safety of their families.
During their time at home, CNAs collected unemployment or pandemic pay which was even more than they earned while they were working!
A number of U.S. states considered temporary nurse aide training programs to be able to provide support and extra hands in the healthcare facilities. Inactive CNA’s were even advised to apply for recertification so that they can also assist with patient care.
We have outlined some of the states and their requirements for temporary nurse aide training programs:
The state of Illinois:
Conditional employment – the state of Illinois reconsidered its rule and extended the duration of producing criminal history (fingerprint-based) results from three months to six months.
Out-of-state CNAs – CNAs with a current and valid CNA certification from another state were granted reciprocity (during a certain period) to be Illinois CNAs without paying a fee.
The American Health Care Association (AHCA) announced a temporary, free eight-hour online training course “in order to address the current state of emergency”
Apart from an eight-hour classroom training, the residents of Illinois were also required to complete eight-hours of on-the-job training including job-shadowing to best prepare them for the current healthcare environment. The instructors were required to train these temporary nurse aides to perform all the skills and tasks required. Temporary Nurse Aides (TNAs) were not required to take the competency exam and will not be taken as a nurse aide after the pandemic.
The state of Connecticut:
To become a temporary nurse aide in Connecticut, individuals had to complete and pass AHCA’s online course and upload the certificate of completion on the Department of Public Health website.
The state of Georgia:
The 8-hour temporary nurse aide training program developed by AHCA was approved by Georgia’s Department of Community Health. The training centers were advised to hold on to the documentation of temporary nurse aides and when the state of emergency is lifted, there will be a time period for temporary nurse aides to complete any additional training in order to pass the Georgia Certified Nurse Aide Competency Exam and become qualified nurse’s aide.
The state of Indiana:
On 6th March 2020, the Indiana Health State Commissioner ordered that licensed Indiana nursing homes start training temporary Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) in order to assist during the pandemic. The temporary Personal Care Attendant 8-hour course covered 5 hours of classroom training and 3 hours of skills training. The PCA position will only remain until the Executive Order remains in effect including any additional time considered necessary by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) until the renewal of normal staff.
Candidates were required to be at least 18 years or older and provide a clear criminal background check record.
The state of Kansas:
AHCA’s temporary nurse aide course was authorized for Kansas residents and when the “state of emergency” is lifted, these individuals will have to complete the 90-hour Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) course and pass the state exam to become a certified Kansas nurse aide.
The state of Florida:
In Florida, the AHCA Personal Care Attendant program helped long-term care facilities to fill up the staff shortage. The course was 8 hours (5 hours of classroom training and 3 hours of competency check-off) and provided training on direct care for patients so that Personal Care Attendants can temporarily carry out additional tasks. This temporary program will go on until the ‘state of emergency’ is lifted or until the agency finds it necessary to discontinue the program.
Other states waived the 75-hour training requirements, however, they had different requirements. For example;
The state of California:
A CNA who is employed temporarily during the “state of emergency” is encouraged to stay and complete an approved certification training course after the “state of emergency” is lifted.
The state of Colorado:
Colorado only waived the nurse aide training requirements but not the competency requirement. Healthcare centers are advised to use separate staff teams for covid-19 patients and also a consistent allocation of staff to patients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will temporary nurse aides (TNA’s) be fired?
Some states such as Illinois says that TNAs will not be employed as a nurse aide after the pandemic, however, other states such as Kansas encourage TNAs to complete the course in order to acquire a certificate and qualify as a Kansas CNA.
Can a Certified Nurse Aide work past the four-month period if he/she has completed the state-approved CNA course but hasn’t been able to test because of the pandemic?
Yes, the nurse aide may continue to work until the pandemic has subsided/ended and testing is available again. Nurse aides must complete the testing requirements as soon as testing is available.
How can I avoid the risk of being affected while at work?
You are required to meet the CMS guidelines whilst working among covid-19 patients and these include; sanitizing the environment often, wearing the following PPE: a gown, gloves, a mask, and eye protection, and keep your hands clean. When you’ve completed your shift, ensure you dispose of the PPE outside the nursing home or center where you’re working.
Certified Nursing Assistants are true heroes and they are the backbone of the healthcare system. Covid-19 would have been unbeatable without them!
Remember to thank/appreciate a CNA when you see one!