Many Louisa residents have to travel long distances to receive adequate training to become a certified nursing or personal care assistant. One local resident has partnered with her cousin to make this training more accessible.
Sheila Thurston lost her mother, who was paralyzed from the waist down, after taking care of her for eight years. Thurston struggled with finding adequate help, as she lived in Louisa and her mother lived in Mineral. In a different part of Virginia, Thurston’s cousin, Diane Artis, was having trouble finding someone to help her take care of her mother as well. Artis has worked in health care for over 25 years and has noticed that decent help is hard to come by.
“We had a calling from God,” said Thurston and Artis.
They came up with the idea to open an assisted living facility and private school for CNA/PCA classes on Thurston’s property on South Spotswood Trail (Route 33). The women plan to name the school 2 Daughters Training Institution; the home will be called Gladys’ House, named after Thurston’s mother. When Thurston and Artis open a second home on the site at a later date, it will be called Helen’s Place, for Artis’ mother.
Earlier this year, Thurston received a conditional use permit from the Louisa County Board of Supervisors for the facility. Thurston has a vacant building that she plans to fully renovate to accommodate a small group of residents and prospective students. The school’s opening date should fall in the first week of September. Thurston and Artis would like to start by offering classes, then take applications for a small group of residents. As of right now, there is no limit on how many students and teachers may be in the building, but planning commissioners advised Thurston that she can have eight residents.
The classes that will be provided will be those needed to obtain either a certified nursing or personal care assistant certificate. Classes that will be offered coincide with what the state requires and may range from patient safety and cleanliness to mental health.
“We want the graduates to have a heart for the people,” said Thurston, so they thought of including an ethics class into the course schedule, something many similar programs in surrounding areas do not have.
Residents will have access to someone on staff at all times in case of an emergency. Thurston and Artis are hoping to cater to those in need in Louisa who fall into the categories of elderly, disabled, or veterans. Thurston herself is a veteran, so she feels it is important to make sure they always have a place to call home.
Before she applied, Thurston created a petition and surveyed her neighbors within a two-mile radius of where the facility would be located. All of her neighbors agreed that it would be a wonderful idea. One neighbor was worried about potential criminals, but Thurston reassured them that they would do extensive background checks on all potential residents.
“The Thurstons have been our neighbors for the past 13 years. Their plans to open a training center for CNAs and PCAs and an assisted living facility is a vital service that immensely benefits our community.” said Lori Hernandez, one of Thurston’s neighbors.
While Thurston and Artis are trying to provide a service they feel would benefit the community, they are also worried that finances will keep potential students and residents from applying. They hope that local churches or organizations will donate to applicants, and maybe even offer scholarships to those who would like to enroll as students.