• LeadingAge New York


Herkimer, NY – COVID-19 has taken its toll on everyone’s mental, emotional and financial health. For some, they have the added burden of addressing how they are going to live, feed their family and try to go back to as normal a lifestyle, as possible, in light of this pandemic aggressor. Facing it head-on is Kathy Cimino, hairdresser of 22 years at Valley Health Services. Salon services were halted, along with most of the country’s business operations, at the onset of COVID-19. Cimino also works part-time as an Assistant Manager at New York & Company, New Hartford. Cimino needed to find a way to financially support herself and her family, when the salon operation ceased. She decided to enroll in Valley Health Services’ Certified Nursing Assistant Program, become certified and work as a CNA to support our most vulnerable elderly population. She also wanted to stay close to her mother, Shirley Marine, who has been a resident of Valley Health Services for the past three years. Cimino lives in Ilion, NY, with her daughter Christina, age 23, and two dogs, Bear and Peach. Her daughter Chelsea, lives in Troy, NY. So, what is her perception of this new career path? “This is the hardest job I have ever had, and I have been working for 40 years.” Cimino says the job is physically and mentally challenging. Yet, it is so very rewarding. Her typical day starts at 7 a.m., with mentor and CNA colleague, Mary Hurteau, who sets the tone for the day. Cimino states how in awe she is of Hurteau because she is so patient and compassionate with the residents. “She truly has the best interests of the residents at heart.” As a CNA, Cimino’s role is providing basic patient care under the direction of the Charge Nurse. Performing such tasks as feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming or moving patients and changing linens is an everyday occurrence. Cimino says she is so grateful for having this experience. She says she gets to check on her mother every day. She understands how difficult it is for families to be away from their loved ones in light of the no visitation policy. Cimino says this has been an eye-opening experience and all Valley Health Services staff – from administration to direct-care, nursing, CNAs, RAs, dietary, housekeeping and more should be commended for the great job they do in caring for residents 24/7 – day in and day out. Cimino states emphatically, “I would never have put my mother here, if I did not truly believe in this place. I am so thankful for the quality care, engagement and love they have for my mother and all residents. Families truly can rest assured that their loved ones are well taken care of here.” One thing is for sure – all the residents know Cimino, love and feel comfortable with her! Her million-dollar smile and sparkling personality puts everyone at ease. The residents enjoy visiting with her, throwing a few jokes from time to time and know she will find their brand of humor entertaining. When the residents need someone to listen to them, she lends an ear without any hesitation. Cimino thought she worked hard at her hairdressing job, but she says being a CNA is so much more hands-on. She says the most challenging part of the job is comforting residents, when they are missing their families. Sometimes it’s hard to put their mind at ease. Cimino loves being around the residents, stating, “they make me feel good; they have a lot of stories and it is enjoyable to listen to them.” As we approach June 2020, National Certified Nursing Assistants Week is on the horizon from June 14 to 21 and, specifically, Thursday, June 18th is National Certified Nursing Assistants Day. This celebratory day is dedicated to those who devote their lives to the well-being of others. Valley Health Services’ President, Lisa M. Betrus, expressed her gratitude to Cimino and all the CNAs who are so invaluable in providing hands-on direct care to our elderly population. Betrus states, “I could not be more proud of all the staff at Valley Health Services for their dedication to our residents and ensuring their well-being, during this most unprecedented time. I am humbled to work beside them.” Valley Health Services has a new CNA class beginning June 22, 2020, which is a five-week course with paid training, including the NYS certification testing fee. Additionally, for those who are hired by June 15th, Valley Health Services is offering a $100 recruitment bonus. For more information, prospective candidates should contact Lynn Hocking, Director of Human Resources by telephone at {315} 866-3330 extension 2254 or by email at

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