Haverhill High’s Certified Nursing Assistant Program Faces Suspension Due to COVID-19

Haverhill High School. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Correction: Haverhill school officials, rather than the nursing home, made the decision to not send students into long-term care centers during the pandemic.

Haverhill High School’s Certified Nursing Assistant Program may be in jeopardy as a result of the coronavirus.

School Superintendent Margaret Marotta told the School Committee last week that because of COVID-19 concerns, the school department decided not to send students to work at Hannah Duston Healthcare Center to reduce risk for both residents and students.

“If someone were to have COVID, if they were to go to the nursing home, the results could be disastrous. I would not want that to be on the conscience of a 16- or 17-year old. It would mean that our students would not graduate with their CNA. They would not have their practical hours,” she said.

Marotta said the high school has been able to make adaptations to the program in other areas to make it work, but the practicum needs to be hands-on.

Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr. said he has a relationship with Whittier Health, Hannah Duston’s parent company, and he would ask them if there were any possible alternatives.

“I originally helped get that program set up. I’d be happy to the owners over at Whittier Health to see if there’s anything they could do to still get those certifications because I think it’s important for those kids. I’d like to explore every option,” Wood said.

He noted Whittier Health also operates a home health care agency, which could be another option.

Following that line of thought, Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti suggested contacting the Visiting Nurses Association. That agency also works with one patient at a time, which would reduce the chances of exposure.

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