SCC, rehab center helping nurses


College, Chatham Nursing help eight resettle from Puerto Rico

By Staff report



Eight nurses from Puerto Rico are relocating to the United States to undergo training and testing to eventually become licensed locally as registered nurses working for Chatham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Elkin. They are taking a Nurse aide refresher course offered by Surry Community College, So they can become certified nurse aides to earn an income while they study for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).


Eight nurses who have had to leave their home, hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico, are getting an opportunity to work in Surry County as a result of a partnership between Chatham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and Surry Community College.

Several years ago, Chatham Nursing owner Century Care Management purchased a local building called Chatham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, and within the past year hired a new administrative team including Executive Director Hannah Davis.

Like many other skilled nursing facilities, striving to maintain adequate staffing can be a struggle along with dealing with what the agency considers a state-wide nursing shortage. The team at Chatham decided to look outside the box. During this search, Michelle Fontaine, director of operations for Century Care, recalled how she had recruited nurses from the Philippines two decades ago.

“It dawned on me one night that there were probably nurses in Puerto Rico who would want to relocate to this area due to the devastation that the hurricanes have brought on their home,” she said. “It also occurred to me that because Puerto Rico is a part of the United States this could be a much easier process because they would not require VISAs.”

Fontaine started doing internet research and found a recruiter in Puerto Rico who had a large pool of nurses interested in relocating to the mainland U.S. for work.

“The recruiter said these nurses wanted to leave Puerto Rico and start a new life where they could work as RNs,” Fontaine said. “Even before the hurricane, Puerto Rico’s economy had been depressed. These nurses had been forced into doing jobs outside of health care such as waiting tables or other sales positions.”

The next part of the adventure began when Fontaine journeyed to Puerto Rico to meet the applicants. She interviewed some in person and others via video chat because of flooded roadways.

“I asked them why did you become a nurse. Their answers were similar. They want to help people and are empathetic to individuals who need to be taken care of. Many of them had cared for aging family members,” Fontaine said. “They all want a better opportunity. They want to use their nursing skills and knowledge. They want to grow professionally, and they want to care for people as nurses.”

For what is perhaps the most difficult part of this arrangement, it had to be determined how these nurses would become licensed locally, because even though they have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing, they cannot practice as nurses in North Carolina without passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

For this part of the task Fontaine reached out to the Division of Health Service Regulation in Raleigh and spoke with Kathy Turner who contacted community colleges around the Elkin area.

“Surry Community College was eager to help. I knew there would be no better partner than Surry Community College to offer the nurses a nurse aide refresher course that would allow them to quickly become Certified Nurse Aides, so they can then work and earn an income while they simultaneously study four to six months for the NCLEX-RN,” Fontaine said. “Most of these individuals are coming from areas completely devastated by the hurricane; some have been volunteering and almost none have the resources for this type of move.”

The parent company of Chatham Nursing and Rehab, Century Care Management of Cary, is making this possible. Officials there decided to fly all of these nurses over, to furnish and pay for housing, and to cover coursework and supplies during their first 60 days in Elkin.

“We are thrilled to be able to participate in this relocation and training program for the nurses from Puerto Rico,” said Deborah Cave, the college’s director of Allied Health. “I understand that they have gone through a lot in their lives, and I am glad that we can provide the nurse aide refresher training for them, which will be a large part of them being able to make better lives for themselves. Michelle Roberts and Pansy White are our instructors who have completely changed their classes around in order to take on this extra assignment.”

By participating in the training and relocation program offered by Chatham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the nurses will be under contract for two years with the center.

“I see this as a win-win. These nurses needed jobs, and we needed nurses,” Fontaine said. “We hope they will stay with us long beyond their contracts. When we recruited from the Philippines, we hired four nurses, and one of those is still working with us today. That’s been about 23 years ago. We hope that some of these eight nurses will do the same.”

Administrator Hannah Davis reported that she is thrilled at the prospect of assisting these men and women to grow in their nursing careers and settle in a new area.

The group of bilingual nurses, ages ranging from their 20s to their 30s including five women and three men, arrived in North Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 25. Many of them will be bringing their families to Surry County after they get settled.

Surry Community College offers a wide variety of healthcare courses including Nurse Aide I, Nurse Aide II, Associate Degree Nursing, Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) and a bridge program for LPNs who want to become Registered Nurses. Starting this fall, Surry Community College will offer two Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree programs through a partnership with Lees-McRae College. For more information, go to www.surry.edu.

Eight nurses from Puerto Rico are relocating to the United States to undergo training and testing to eventually become licensed locally as registered nurses working for Chatham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Elkin. They are taking a Nurse aide refresher course offered by Surry Community College, So they can become certified nurse aides to earn an income while they study for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_PR-nurses.jpgEight nurses from Puerto Rico are relocating to the United States to undergo training and testing to eventually become licensed locally as registered nurses working for Chatham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Elkin. They are taking a Nurse aide refresher course offered by Surry Community College, So they can become certified nurse aides to earn an income while they study for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
College, Chatham Nursing help eight resettle from Puerto Rico

By Staff report

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