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Funds sought for R.I. CNAs.

Rhode Island's Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty, who chairs the state's Long Term Care Coordinating Council, is urging the state to allocate $7 million over the next six months to increase pay and benefits for nursing home CNAs.

According to Fogarty, the state's CNA vacancy rate is now approaching 20 percent, and the annual turnover rate is near 80 percent. He adds that his office, as well as the health department, has begun receiving complaints regarding quality-of-care problems in Rhode Island nursing homes.

"We've got to make salaries more competitive," says Fogarty. Secondly, we need to look at the whole issue of CNAs and how to enhance that profession, so that people can look at that not as a dead-end job, but as a chance to really serve people in an important capacity."

According to Roberta Hawkins, Rhode Island's long term care ombudsman and executive director of the Alliance for Better Long-Term Care, Warwick, R.I., the average hourly rate for a CNA working in one of Rhode Island's 105 skilled nursing facilities is about $7.68. With federal matching, the proposed state financing could boost the rate to $11 per hour.

"I think that our leadership at the Statehouse has recognized that this is a serious issue, and that we need to bring people back into this industry," says Hawkins. "Seven dollars and change an hour is just not going to do that. We also need to look at retirement benefits and creating a career ladder." Hawkins notes that CNAs who work with dementia residents and perform other specialized care require additional training and should receive higher pay in accordance with increased skills.
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Publication:Contemporary Long Term Care
Date:Apr 1, 2001
Previous Article:Health department closes Okla. SNF.
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