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Tracy Frank, Published July 23 2010

Fargo to get new CNA program

The Minn-Kota chapter of American Red Cross is starting a certified nursing assistant (CNA) program in Fargo.

The program will provide the training, information, and skills needed for someone to become a CNA.

CNAs work under a nurse’s supervision to provide basic care like bathing, grooming and feeding patients, helping nurses with medical equipment and checking patients’ vital signs.

“It’s a growing field,” said Patricia Murray-Kerian, of Fargo, a registered nurse and a Red Cross volunteer and instructor who is helping set up the program. “Many people start off their careers as a CNA if they’re going into the medical field or nursing.”

She said it’s a good way to gain experience working with patients and clients.

Shellie Simonson Ulven, Minn-Kota Red Cross communications and marketing director, said the program will meet a community need for the region and beyond.

“People are looking for CNAs,” Simonson Ulven said. “We’re just trying to fill the need that we’re hearing about.”

American Red Cross offers nurse assistant training across the nation designed to meet state certification requirements.

The Fargo office had been receiving a growing number of inquiries about whether a CNA program was offered here, so the branch decided to look into the need, said Cindy Christensen, Minn-Kota Red Cross director of education and training.

CNA training programs are generally booked six months in advance, she said.

“There certainly are providers for a CNA education here in the community, but apparently not enough,” Christensen said.

The CNA program provided by the Minn-Kota Red Cross Fargo chapter will be a 99-hour class offered during the daytime for a month, during weekends for a semester, or in the evenings.

Training will be provided at the Fargo Red Cross facility and in nursing homes.

The chapter’s goal is to train four instructors this fall and kick off the program no later than Jan. 1, Christensen said.

The chapter is working on securing grant funding to help pay for training.

HERO, Healthcare Equipment Recycling Organization, a program that collects and redistributes donated health care materials, has also donated equipment.

“It’s a great program, and there aren’t a lot of nursing assistant training programs in the area,” said Jessica Krogstad, HERO communications and development director. “We were really excited to be able to provide them with some of the medical supplies they needed.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526