Front-line health worker program opens up

A one-time funding provided means 16 more student spaces at the Invermere campus of the College of the Rockies.

A one-time funding provided by the provincial government means the Invermere campus of the College of the Rockies (COTR) will be able to accommodate 16 more students beginning in January 2013 in the health care assistant program.

The 16 students currently in the program will be graduating this December after their practicums at the Columbia Garden Village in Invermere, the local residential care facility operated by Golden Life Management, and with Interior Health.

“Right now there is a big demand for work,”  said COTR Invermere campus manager Doug Clovechok. “Golden Life as well as Interior Health are looking for health care assistance providers so basically what the college did is go to the ministry and get a one-time funding that would enable us to offer another program this coming January.”

A partner in the health care assistant program, Golden Life Management set about expanding Columbia Garden Village in May earlier this year. The expansion, when complete, will allow for 34 new residential care beds and the health care assistant program currently underway was offered in a timely manner so that the students’ graduation lines up with the opening of the new facility.

“This is the critical piece in this,” Clovechok said. “What I really, really like about this program is that in the Invermere area, in our community, this is an area of employment which is really, really growing quickly.”

The program is an expensive one to offer and while students are still required to pay tuition, the one-time funding helps cover instructors’ salaries, and associated administrative costs and supplies. The program is about eight months long and graduates of the program will provide front-line care, including home support as well as residential care among others. A total of $236,000 is being provided to the College of the Rockies, part of which will provide for additional student spaces in the health care assistant program at the Creston campus.