Healthcare academy creates pipeline to COVID-19 frontlines

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KILLEEN, Texas – With record-breaking COVID hospitalizations state-wide, the shortage of certified nursing assistants is growing more apparent everyday.

Almost monthly, Life Healthcare Academy is producing new CNA’s eager to meet that heightened demand.

20-year U.S. Army veteran Shaneel Wilson is no stranger to battle. However, she’s set her sights on defeating a new enemy.

“Me helping and learning what I learned here, I’m going to go out here and try to fight it with everybody else,” Wilson told FOX44.

She and her class of newly-certified nursing assistants at Life Healthcare Academy in Killeen were beaming with pride as they graduated with their official CNA licenses.

“Its such an honor to graduate 15 extraordinary minorities in the community to take care of residents, take care of patients,” said Dr. Georgia Dixon, the academy’s founder.

The five-week program prepared Wilson and her classmates to fill the high and growing demand for CNAs across the country since the outbreak of COVID-19.

For Wilson, the fight against COVID is personal – the deadly disease hit closer to home than she ever imagined it would.

“I had an aunt that passed away back in March,” she shared.

Statistics show that as a black person, Wilson’s aunt was three times more likely to die from COVID and four times more likely to be hospitalized – a shocking statistic she and her classmates alike want to change.

One alumnus of the academy is no stranger to change. George Howe came back to speak to Wilson and her classmates after completely changing his career field.

“I was working in the music industry, and that obviously got shut down because of COVID,” Howe told FOX44.

So he put his hands, usually working to create music, to work helping heal patients across Central Texas.

“It was a struggle, but it was worth it. And its definitely prepared me for what’s going on, as well seeing people struggle with COVID symptoms,” said Howe.

He and Wilson say they both will remember the mantra they were to recite:

“My job is important, and I’m the one for this job!”

“There are people that are having the doubts like, ‘I’m not going to make it.’ And we’re like, ‘Yes, you can, you got it.’ We’ll all pull together and we’re going to get it,” said Wilson.

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