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New training center dedicated at Catholic Health to address caregiver turnover

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

A dedication ceremony and blessing was held Tuesday in Cheektowaga for a new training center that seeks to combat high caregiver turnover.

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Healthcare Professionals Training Center is located on the St. Joseph Campus—part of the Catholic Health system. It is named for the foundation that announced a more than $15 million investment in April to pilot a program to better support early-career caregivers in Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo.

The Transformational Healthcare Readiness through Innovative Vocational Education (THRIVE) program was developed by Cleveland Clinic, which will operate it in Northeast Ohio. Ascension Michigan and Catholic Health will run the program in Southeast Michigan and Western New York, respectively.

“THRIVE will strengthen caregivers by improving decision making skills, communication, customer service, time management and resiliency skills with the ultimate goal of investing in our associates to improve retention,” said Catholic Health Chief Business Development Officer Joyce Markiewicz.

Speaking to new participants of Catholic Health’s third THRIVE class, who were present for the dedication ceremony, President and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation David Egner told them the country is experiencing a health crisis.

Credit Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News
David Egner, president and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, spoke to future caregivers.

“Baby boomers are aging. We’re living longer, and entry-level caregivers are leaving at the pace of more than 50 percent,” he said. “So, if you look around, in theory half of you won’t be here a year from now—after starting employment. That’s not how you can drive health care to people who need care the most.”

Markiewicz said it’s often socioeconomic rather than work-related issues that prevent new caregivers from either completing training or their first year of employment.

“It might be child care issues. It might be things like they don’t have the money to put gas in their car or to get on a bus, and so they just don’t show up for work anymore. So, part of what we’re trying to do with the THRIVE program is to remove those kinds of barriers,” she told WBFO.

THRIVE is a holistic program that provides not only vocational training for caregiver positions but also life coaching and additional education and support throughout the workers’ first year on the job. Catholic Health expects more than 1,300 nurse assistants, certified nursing assistants, home health aides and personal care aides to graduate from THRIVE in Buffalo over the next three years.

Any individuals with a high school degree who are interested in working as a Catholic Health caregiver are invited to apply for the free THRIVE training program by calling 716-923-7069.

Kyle Mackie is a multimedia journalist with reporting experience in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Western Balkans and New York City. She joined WBFO to cover education and more in June 2019.
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