Meeting the Need: The Kathleen M. Fruin RN Certified Nursing Aide School opens at Waveny Lifecare Network

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, the U.S. was already grappling with a shortage of nurses.  The State of Connecticut 2020 Workforce Strategic Plan published by the Governor’s Workforce Council identified Healthcare as the largest workforce sector in the state of Connecticut, employing 16% of the state’s workforce or 270,000 jobs.

Furthermore, the 2020 plan recognized the need to address the CNA shortage which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Kathleen M. Fruin, RN Certified Nursing Aide School has been developed to provide a solution to the shortage by preparing qualifying candidates for careers in the high demand healthcare industry through the entry level CNA position.

The Kathleen M. Fruin, RN Certified Nursing Aide School recently opened thanks to a gift made possible by The Corbet Family Foundation in recognition of Mrs. Fruin’s selfless service, commitment and passion for the nursing profession.

Mrs. Fruin started her nursing career 65 years ago after earning her Registered Nurse’s degree from the Labouré College of Healthcare in Boston, MA.  Mrs. Fruin started her professional career as a RN and worked at both St. Mary’s and Waterbury hospitals in Waterbury, Conn while raising five children with her late husband, John W. Fruin, a public school principal.  .  After receiving her a bachelor’s degree from Charter Oak State College in New Britain, CT, Kathleen was employed by the State of Connecticut’s Department of Social Services as a Nurse Administrator, where she helped to develop the state’s first program in Home Healthcare.  Kathleen continues to enjoy her profession as a licensed healthcare provider working as an instructor to senior citizens on how to manage balance and chronic illness – such as high blood pressure and diabetes – which is  sponsored by a grant from the University of Rhode Island.

“Our family could not be more proud of our mom who over the past 65 years has worked tirelessly to bring care and compassion to her patients and students,” said Kathleen A. Corbet, daughter of Kathleen M. Fruin, RN and director of The Corbet Family Foundation.  “It was only fitting – on the occasion of  our mother’s 85th birthday and the first day of national Nurses’ Week, we honor her dedication and passion for the care she provides as a nurse and teacher with a gift to launch the Kathleen M. Fruin, RN Certified Nursing Aide School at Waveny LifeCare Network.”

The goal of the Kathleen M. Fruin, RN Certified Nursing Aide School is to deliver an innovative, employer-driven program designed to build career pathways in the healthcare industry.  In order to remove the many barriers that often exist for first-time students, the program is fully subsidized and provides full-time employment opportunities for all accepted participants.  Upon acceptance into the school, participants will immediately begin earning a salary plus benefits. While Waveny LifeCare Network is fully committed to fund salaries and benefits related to this new initiative, the organization is seeking ARPA and related grants, along with support from generous private donors, to help offset costs.

“Every member of our care team plays an essential role,” said Russell Barksdale, President and CEO of Waveny LifeCare Network. “We believe that the investments we are making today through this initiative will help remove barriers to training and education for all those who are attracted to this special career path that lies at the heart of quality health care services. We are grateful for the Corbet Family Foundation for their partnership to address the extraordinary workforce challenges in the nursing profession.”

For more information on the CNA/HHA school at Waveny and to discuss enrollment opportunities, please contact Rebecca Albrecht at ralbrecht@waveny.org.