Martia Abing, a high school senior at Potosi, is one of the approximately 600,000 national Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) who works in a nursing home. Martia works at Morningside Assisted Living in Lancaster. “Morningside can hold 26 residents and has approximately 25-30 employees,” Martia said. Morningside provides three meals a day plus two activities. Activities are the residents' choices if they want to attend or participate. With the current virus going on, these activities have become a huge part of the residents' lives.
With the virus spreading rapidly, Morningside closed their doors to outside visitors in the spring before Martia started working there. “You can see the sadness in the residents as they are constantly getting told no-- you can’t go out here, no--you can’t see your family members. It is really sad because their family is something they look forward to seeing and talking to every week and now with COVID, you can see how much more lonely they are,” said Martia. Martia’s job title is a Resident Assistant, which includes doing anything from helping a resident shower, to putting them in bed, or helping them if needed once they are in bed. “Basically, their basic needs,” Martia added. She also is an activity director, meaning she can plan an activity if she is working during the scheduled time in her shift. Some basic activities can be getting the resident to exercise, playing bingo, or even a classic card game.
Martia got her CNA license through the CNA program offered at Southwest Technical College in the summer of 2019. The course was about 5 weeks long, which was a big reason why Martia picked this course. “I would recommend this program to anybody in high school who wants to go into the healthcare field. The class is pretty straight forward, and with a little bit of common sense, you will pass no problem.” Martia thought being a CNA would give her a chance to really find out if helping others and being in the healthcare field is something she would really like and be good at. Martia would go from volleyball open gyms to the classes, but said, “The 5 weeks went pretty fast, which didn’t ruin my summer.” Knowing she agreed to be a CNA in a pandemic, this comes with additional big responsibilities.
WIth Martia being a high school student, she has to be very careful and follow all precautions when it comes to going to work. “I do feel a little bit of pressure that I might give [COVID-19] to someone, especially since I am still in school, so obviously I am around a lot of people that aren’t in my typical little bubble. In quarantine, I saw only so many people, but now I see, like, a bunch of people at school. There is a lot of pressure that I might take it in there and give it to a resident or employee. My everyday precautions are making sure that I wear my mask and wash my hands, and be careful of social distancing,” Martia explained. Martia’s mom included, “I am not afraid of Martia transferring this virus with all the safety precautions she is doing. If it is meant to happen, it will happen.”
Martia got hired during the pandemic, so she doesn’t know what a CNA’s routine was like prior to COVID. Morningside is trying their hardest to make the residents' lives as normal as possible during this pandemic, while also being safe. Martia is so confident in Morningside that she said, “I would put my parents in Morningside if they needed assisted living. I know how the residents are treated there!” Martia’s key phrase that keeps her going would be, “Treat these residents how you would want your Grandma or Grandpa treated.”
With all the negative things going on in the world, Martia said there's plenty of positivity in the nursing home. “It’s pretty amazing how these residents will be stuck in this building, but they still show me a lot of love and respect!” Being a CNA might not be for everyone, but Martia encourages people to help out, due to the love you get to give and receive. Martia ended by saying, “It’s a wonderful experience that I wish everyone would get to experience. The residents can always make your day better!