Health career facility unveiled

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette CTE nursing instructor Lorie Maki explains the benefits of having the classroom and laboratory combined at the Houghton County Medical Care Facility.

HANCOCK — Members of the Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Board were given a tour of the new certified nursing assistant (CNA) and health careers classrooms built as part of the career and technical education (CTE) expansion this year.

“They were instrumental to helping me get the CTE off the ground,” Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD) Superintendent George Stockero said.

The foundation has donated $150,000 to the CTE over the last three years. For the first two, it went to tuition reduction to show students would attend these classes if it was more affordable.

In the third year, $50,000 went to building the new CNA and health careers classrooms.

PHF Executive Director Kevin Store said they were willing to make the investment because Stockero came to them with a plan to demonstrate the desire in the community for the program to grow.

“We’re pretty excited to be able to play the role we did,” Store said.

CNA instructor Lorie Maki showed the group around the classroom now inside the Houghton County Medical Care Facility.

“If you ask me, we have prime real estate in this building,” she said.

The room is on the first floor with large windows facing the road. Inside is a set of school desks and four hospital beds with medical dummies in them.

Before, the lab area was separated from the classroom area. Maki said being able to split the class between activities is a big advantage.

The lab is outfitted with the same beds used by the county, and are made to be as much like a real hospital room as possible with call lights, sanitizers and furniture.

“It’s very realistic,” Maki said. “This class is very hands-on.”

Not only do the students practice on the dummies, but they also practice some things on each other.

“They’re going to wash each other’s feet,” Maki said.

Part of CNA training is learning to be comfortable talking and touching other people, so students practice essentials like taking vital signs or lifting patients on each other.

“It’s a part of what we do,” Maki said. “We take them out of their comfort zone.”

Daityn Markham is a junior at Houghton High School who started the health careers program this year.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to shadow,” she said.

After learning some of the basics first semester, the students will shadow a professional in the community two days a week during the second semester to learn what the careers their preparing for are really like from day to day.

Students in the CNA and health careers classes are planning to go on after high school to become physician assistants, nurses, veterinarians, ultrasound technicians, epidemiologists, surgical technicians, EMTs and more.