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Hello All,

Happy April! Spring is in the air, and many exciting things are in the works for Ombudsman Services. Today, I’m excited to talk to you about one of our programs, Healthcare Career Pathway. This program is a partnership focused on creating a meaningful pathway to sustainable employment for students with addressable barriers, while also addressing the critical shortage of CNAs working in long-term care.

The program began three years ago and has seen exciting results with students securing employment in fulfilling positions that provide critical care to older and disabled adults. The need for well-trained CNAs was evident during the COVID-19 epidemic as those facilities without adequate staff endured the worst outbreaks. For residents, this lack of staff was an issue of life and death.

Because Healthcare Career Pathway is yielding such positive results and was included in California’s Master Plan for Aging Local Playbook, we are leading an effort to expand this program to three additional locations across California! This is an exciting development that would make way for hundreds of additional CNAs to embark on a pathway to self-sufficiency in the allied healthcare field while providing direct care to seniors.

We need your help in telling our elected officials in Sacramento to support this pilot program and it’s expansion to communities across the state. Please take a moment to review the information below about the success of this program and send in a letter of support using the sample provided.

California has been bold in its promise to older adults, and Healthcare Career Pathway is an important tool in building the workforce needed to care for our elders. I hope you will join me and support this program.

In addition to this exciting initiative, I hope you will also take the time to learn more about our new team members and how some of our staff made their decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

THANK YOU for all that you do.

Best wishes,

Nicole Howell
Executive Director

A COVID Vaccine Story

Widespread COVID vaccinations are already saving lives and helping our communities begin to thrive again, but the decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine may be scary for many. Meet Charmaine Brent, Ombudsman Services Lead Regional Supervisor for Alameda County, who has been passionately advocating for the rights of vulnerable individuals with Ombudsman Services for the last two years, and who recently received the COVID vaccine.

“Initially, the term ‘Operation Warp Speed’ scared me! I did not have much trust in the previous Presidential Administration. I was initially focused on why the vaccine came out so quickly and why I should trust it. Being an African American woman, there are most often reservations about trusting the government in our community. I was very skeptical before doing the research. As I spoke to friends and family members in my community, they had the same doubts. And at the time, I decided to put the vaccine out of my mind.”

As the vaccine rollout continued to widen, Charmaine began to focus less on the government’s motive and look at the number of deaths and how COVID had impacted her family. “I wanted to make sure that I did all that I could to reduce the chances of passing COVID to anyone in long-term care facilities, at work, or to my family. I love my job, so I felt that it was my duty to research and make a decision.”

Charmaine participated in a virtual town hall meeting lead by During this town hall, conspiracy theories were addressed, and they discussed how and why the vaccine was developed so quickly. “When one doctor stated, ‘I know that many are concerned about how quickly the vaccine was made available, but truthfully doctors and scientists have been doing research for years with SARS,’ that resonated with me.” In addition to the town hall, Charmaine did more research utilizing resources provided by Ombudsman Services, spoke to her doctor, and had a heart to heart with her father.

“We have been in the pandemic for more than a year, and it has taken a toll on our psychological, emotional, and social welfare. I took the vaccine and had minimal side effects. I love my life and my job. I want to continue advocating for elders for as long as I can! Since taking the vaccine, I feel so much safer, and I feel like living life again. I believe that we collectively have to choose to create a normal life again and trust the process.”

Charmaine has become a sounding board for friends and family who are now making their decisions. She is proud to report a significant number have moved forward with the vaccine, including her young adult children, who were proud to watch her go through the process and find confidence in her decision. “It feels really good to share my experience and help others make a sound decision.”

Charmaine’s final words of advice for getting the vaccine, make it a positive experience. “I got dressed up for my first and second dose, played my favorite music, and mentally went in happy and relaxed about my decision.”