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August 12, 2015

New program trains local deaf students to work as nurse aids

Collaboration enables students to receive training while working full-time

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081215_Deafnurseaid Stock/AP

Medics stand with senior patient at hospital.

A new program created through a collaborative regional partnership will train deaf students in Pennsylvania to serve as nurse aids to help provide care to elderly deaf patients, becoming potentially one of the first of its kind in the United States.

Funded through a grant from the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey, the program was developed by Delaware County Community College, Mercy LIFE and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Delco Times reports.

Under the "Excellence in Care" program, a total of 13 care providers will be trained to become nurses through the innovative PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) curriculum at a residential facility. Starting in July, four students at a time began taking classes at Delaware County Community College with the aid of American Sign Language Interpreters who help them complete the 133-hour program.

Once trainees are ready, they test to be placed on the Pennsylvania Nurse Aid Registry.

The 13 students, who work for Mercy Health System's Mercy LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) division in Valley View, are able to take the unique course at no cost while continuing to work at Valley View with a schedule that does not interfere with courses.

To make the program a reality, its planners had to overcome several challenges, including requirements for first-line caregivers to be on the Pennsylvania Nurse Aid Registry and the ability to hear and record blood pressure using a stethoscope. To meet these requirements, the program creators developed the manageable class schedule and arranged to have students learn how to use an electronic cuff that translates heart signals onto a digital display.

Delaware Community College donated medical terminology textbooks and other support materials to help students prepare for their coursework.

The program is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania and, according to Mercy LIFE director Anna Marshalick, the first in the United States as well.

Read more at the Delco Times.

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