Lee Health awards four nursing scholarships

Donor-supported scholarship program important to help address critical nursing shortage

May 3, 2022 – Lee Health awarded four “Heart of Caring” scholarships to Lee Health Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) on April 29, putting them on the path to earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees.

Hunter Fields, Jennifer Guevara, Amber Newborn and Ana Vieira received full scholarships to pursue and earn their nursing degrees. Mark and Carolyn Ain launched the annual scholarship program in 2016 after a hospital stay made them realize how essential CNAs are to improving patient care.

“I was in the hospital here and was blown away by the care,” said Mark Ain, a seasonal Massachusetts resident who founded Kronos, a global provider of workforce management software. “I’ve been to hospitals in Massachusetts, which are supposed to be the best in the country, if not the world, and the care doesn’t compare to the care here. After having my second surgery, I called (Lee Health Foundation) and said I would like to do something for CNAs. They told me there was an education program that hadn’t been cut that year, and I said, “it’s just been done”. It has been an amazing experience funding them and meeting them over the years. It’s a very special day, and you are very special people.

Since the Ains established the scholarships in 2016, 10 Lee Health CNAs have received scholarships, which include application fees, tuition fees, books and other fees, and a stipend for non-academic expenses. Recipients commit to working for Lee Health for two years after graduation. NSAs have also funded CNA educational symposia at Lee Health and staff food trucks during the pandemic, to date $700,000 in donations.

“Finances are a stressor,” beneficiary Vieira said, through tears. “I’ve always wanted to do this, so I can’t thank you enough for this opportunity.”

Due to growing demand for healthcare services amplified by the pandemic, reports predict that 1.2 million new registered nurses (RNs) will be needed by 2030. Opportunities such as the scholarship program” Heart of Caring” are essential to address the shortage of nurses and health personnel.

“The whole country is understaffed. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of people working in healthcare today no longer want to be at the bedside,” said Armando Llechu, director of hospital care at Lee Health. “The only answer to this problem is to continue to stimulate education and training for professionals and to help people fall in love with caregiving again. We are grateful that Mark and Carolyn have helped us to do this over the course of It is meaningful work to train people who want to continue to pursue and grow their careers with us here at Lee Health.

Vieira worked as a CNA in adult general medicine and pediatrics (neonatal intensive care) units, which helped solidify her career aspirations in pediatrics. Guevara has a strong interest in intensive care. Fields and Newborn see opportunities to teach others and are interested in educating nursing students about proper care and the importance of the profession.

For more information about Lee Health support programs, visit LeeHealthFoundation.org.

About the Lee Health Foundation

Lee Health Foundation raises philanthropic funds on behalf of Lee Health including Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center, Lee Memorial Hospital and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. The Foundation provides financial support to many service areas, including Lee Health Regional Cancer Center, Lee Health – Coconut Point, Rehabilitation Hospital, Shipley Cardiothoracic Center, Community Health Clinics and Specialty Clinics in the Golisano Children’s Hospital in Charlotte and Naples. Please visit LeeHealthFoundation.org or call (239) 343-6950 for more information about Lee Health’s philanthropic role in Southwest Florida.

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