LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -The Lawton Veterans Center offering a new wage increase in an effort to solve their staffing shortage.
The Lawton Veterans Center has partnered with a non-profit group called the Galt Foundation to hire more Certified Nursing Assistants. This new process allows for C.N.A's to make anywhere from $14 to $15 an hour, paid by the foundation. Currently, their aides make around $11 an hour. At this point, the partnership is only under contract for one year, but if it helps them attract more workers, they could extend it.
Walking into work everyday and helping the Veterans get out of bed, serve them breakfast and make sure they have everything they need is what Nicole Copeland, a nursing assistant at the Veterans center, does with a smile on her face. She says it's always been a passion of hers, especially since her father served in the military.
"I love taking care of people. I love to serve people. There's something that's in it when you're helping someone and you're giving. Not to just do it in a selfish way, but there is a reward in that for the rest of your life," said Copeland.
Copeland says they're always in need of extra staff, especially now. She says working overtime and coming in whenever help is needed is a regular thing at the Veterans Center. She says many on the crew don't have to be told to help because they are a team and always put the veterans before themselves.
"I know if I see them going through things and they need that extra help. I'm going to be there for them because it's not just about them needed extra help, it's the residents also and that's what we're here for to begin with," said Copeland.
Tonya Hendricks, an administrator for the Veterans Center says due to the urgent need for more nurses aides, they've been spreading the word throughout the community, but also, encouraging students to pursue a career in this field. She says it's important to understand every aspect of what a CNA does.
"If they start at a C.N.A level and work their way up to a nurse, that gives them so much beneficial information on how to meet the residents needs It gives them so much compassion for when they do go on to be an LPN or an RN," said Hendricks.
Copeland says working with other nurses assistants who have just as much passion as she does makes this job worth while, but she says the most rewarding part is developing relationships with the Veterans. She says she hopes other people get on board and take advantage of the opportunity.
"This is my home away from home. I absolutely love it. Come here. We're a team and you will only thrive from here," said Copeland.
Hendricks says since announcing the partnership with the Galt Foundation and increasing the pay, they've hired two people. She says they will re-evaluate and decide next August if they're going to keep the Galt program for the future.
In order to apply for the position at the Veterans Center, you need to be a licensed CNA. You can apply in person at the Veterans Center or go online to www.galt-foundation.org