Pennsylvania Certified Nursing Aide Test Deadline Approaches

HARRISBURG — Thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania’s health care and aged care facilities will be at risk if a state-contracted company is unable to give those workers the help exam -certified nurse before an impending deadline, according to an industry official.

State lawmakers are well aware of the crisis, having torn apart the contractor, Credentia, and the state agencies overseeing the contract during a Senate committee hearing last month.

Future Certified Nurse Aides, or CNAs, have had to wait months, travel hundreds of miles and face repeated cancellations in the process of taking the required exam, which can only be scheduled with Credentia.

“It’s time to start enforcing the contract on them,” Mercer County Republican Senator Michele Brooks said during the hearing. She also said it might be appropriate to see if any penalties were warranted.

The grunt comes amid a staffing crisis at nursing homes. The federal government created a temporary nurse aide position to deal with staffing shortages at the start of the pandemic, but the position will be cut on October 6.

If TNAs cannot take the CNA exam by this date, their jobs will be in jeopardy. At the hearing, Zach Shamberg, president of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, said there were 5,000 to 10,000 TNAs still waiting to take the test.

Credentia and the Departments of Health and Human Services said they would try to improve testing availability. But lawmakers have described state agencies as fighting to get Credentia to honor their deal — and it was unclear for several months which state agency actually held the contract with the company.

The biggest obstacle to CNA testing is that there aren’t enough facilities available to perform the tests and there aren’t enough nurses to oversee the exam, officials said. witnesses at the hearing. When the pandemic began, CNA testing was suspended for several months, and when Credentia resumed testing, it had lost proctors and testing sites.

Since the hearing, Credentia has added two testing sites and seven employees to oversee testing, according to the PHCA.

In a phone interview on Friday, Linda Walker, CNA course coordinator at Central Susquehanna’s Intermediate Unit, criticized Credentia’s services from the hearing.

Walker said she has been trying unsuccessfully since April to register a CSIU building as a CNA testing site with Credentia.

Similar to testimony given at the hearing, Walker said his students routinely had to wait months for their CNA exams and travel more than two hours to get to the testing locations. But, she said, the CSIU nursing building could hold CNA testing three times a week.

Walker said some of his students quit working in health care because they were so discouraged.

“They may be single mothers, they may not be able to get babysitters, they may have to go to work. They have all these obstacles,” she said. “We ask them to drive an hour and a half to pass this very stressful test. And they get there, it’s seven o’clock in the morning, they’ve been on the road for five o’clock, and it’s cancelled.

Walker said Credentia did not respond to emails or respond to phone calls within the time frame stipulated in its contract.

State agencies said in a statement that “the Wolf administration has worked closely with Credentia, with facilities and training stakeholders, and with TNAs to provide appropriate testing opportunities for nurse aides. temporary workers (TNA) who wish to be registered in the Register of nurse aides. after October 6, 2022, and to facilitate collaboration between these entities.

The departments did not specify what steps they would take to help Credentia meet the demand for testing. In the statement, they said their efforts so far have been “focused on increased employer engagement to ensure that facilities that employ TNAs are aware of the steps involved in the TNA Pathway and the resources available to help.” their TNAs to prepare for exams. “

Walker said she was unaware of government efforts to help Credentia. She said that when her organization has interacted with the Department of Health, Human Services or Education, they have mostly “passed the buck” to each other.

During the hearing, Brooks said she asked the Departments of Health and Human Services where the contract was and was told it was at the Department of Education.

Written testimony from all three departments in the hearing said the Department of Human Services held the contract. In an email, the Department of Health said it had the contract.

Christina Baker is an intern at the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association.

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