Nicole Laborde, founder and CEO of Ideal Home care Services, Ideal School of Allied Healthcare, Ideal Home Care Staffing and Ideal Home Care Franchise LLC.
- An Interview with Nicole Laborde
Education is the key. Follow the Dream: Laborde to young people
By Jaskiran S Beri
Marie Nicole Laborde, is a Stonybrook University graduate registered nurse, the founder and CEO of Ideal Home care Services, Ideal School of Allied Healthcare, Ideal Home Care Staffing and Ideal Home Care Franchise LLC. Passionate about helping others and empowering young men and women., she began her career working full time overnight at Stonybrook University hospital in 2002 as a bedside staff nurse. Within a short period of time, she was promoted Registered nurse supervisor on the kidney transplant, surgical oncology unit.
She realized that there was a need for home care services in the community due to the overwhelming requests and stress exhibited by family members when their loved ones were being discharged from the hospital. To help solve the problem, in 2009, she founded Ideal Home Care services, a licensed home health care agency. Her company has provided home care to over 1,000 seniors and others throughout Suffolk and Nassau Counties. Her services have allowed seniors to remain in the comfort of their homes for as long as possible. She has created countless job opportunities in her community by hiring people to care for those in need.
She did not stop there, she also realized that was a shortage of healthcare providers which created a negative impact on those in need of care. In 2011, she founded Ideal School of Allied Healthcare which is licensed by the Department of Education. Today, she offers 12 Curricula from home health aide, nursing assistant, medical assistant just to name a few. She has graduated over 1,500 men and women who are gainfully employed in her community.
While she is busy managing and operating her companies, she finds time to teach the home health aide class. She uses that platform to encourage and inspire her students to be the best that they can be.
- In 2014, she received a community leadership award from Councilman Ramos.
- In 2019 and 2020, Ideal school of Allied Healthcare received the Best Adult Training School and Customer Service award
- In 2020, she received she received the top 100 Healthcare Leaders Award and a Recognition Award from Senator Martinez for her dedication and commitment to the prosperity of her community
She is a member of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce.
Chief editor of The Indian Panorama Prof. Indrajit S Saluja spoke with Ms. Laborde in her offices on August 9, with a view to having her comments on the wonderful institutions she is managing and the challenges and prospects she envisages. She was forthright, as can be seen from her responses to questions posed.
Q.What is the motivation behind the Nursing Training School? And do you have enough students coming forward?
- We have the Pandemic open everybody’s mind and especially in the sector ofhealthcare. A lot of people lost their jobs during Covid, Restaurants went out of business, factories went out of business, so people were left scrambling. While other businesses were closing, healthcare industry was in dire need of healthcare providers, so these shifted their minds.They revamped themselves. So, now we have a tremendous amount of people that are coming, wanting to be healthcare providers. Right now, we do Home healthcare Aide nursing assistance, medical Assistance,Phlebotomy and, in the future, I am hoping to get approved to provide the nursing training for people who want to become Licensed Practitioner Nurse.
- Q. On the one hand many people were left jobless due to the pandemic, on the other hand, many were scaredand did not want to get closer to anybody. Do you think that hampered your efforts to provide Homecare?
- That is true for the Home health AIDES because you have this one on one in the home with the client.At the beginning of Covid we had this issue, however, people were coming wanting to become Nursing Assistants because they saw the path of working in a hospital, a nursing home and some of these people their mindset or goal is to become nurses. They saw an open door; these people were not afraid to come in and enroll themselves as Nursing Assistants. And as the world started to open up again, we had an influx of people now coming and wanting to become Home health AIDES. So, the scary part was at the very beginning when we talk March when a lot of people were dying, when the world kind of closed, people were afraid, Home Healthcare AIDES were afraid to go out but when we reopened after 3 months, it was like we were never closed.
- So you feel satisfied that the numbers that you expected are there both for Homecare and the Training School?
- Is the increase to your expectation and satisfaction?
- Yes, but there is always a room for improvement and growth.
- Q. Do you think there is an opportunity for Indian community students to come to US and study nursing here and get jobs as nurses?
Q.How could they go about it?
- Not knowing how the immigration process works, since one has to go through the immigration process, but if you are already here there are great opportunities. I would suggest the way I started. I was not always a registered nurse. I was a nursing Assistant first and I worked my way up the ladder. So, if people don’t have the financial means to go straight to nursing school, I say start from being a nursing Assistant. This will pave the way for you to become a Nurse or even a nurse practitioner or even a doctor or a phlebotomist. All of these are great areas for people who are already here can start with. That would be my advice to someone who is already here and someone who is trying to come here. Try to do it the legal route and once you come here there are great opportunities for all types of healthcare providers.
Q.If someone wants to join your company from India or any other part of the world, outside US, what will be the process? In the first place, are you going to welcome them?
A.Yes absolutely. If they are already here or they are coming here, we would have to go through thestudent visa process if they are from outside of US, but we are not there yet. But let’s say they are already here, they will meet with an advisor, they will teach them, show them the proper route and interview them to see what the best program is to enroll in. We need to know what their long-term goal is. Based upon that information we get to advise them in what direction they should go.
- Do you think US hasadequate number of nurses at the moment?
- What is the solution?
A.Years back I know some hospitals bring nurses overseas which is great, I don’t know if the numbers are still the same. But I would say to continue to bring nurses overseas, teach people who are already here and explain to them how important it is to enroll in those healthcare programs. Not only are you going to have a job, but you are helping those who are in need because this is what it’s all about. When you are a nurse, you are touching lives, you are changing lives and it’s not just the lives of the patient that you are taking care of but also its tremendous help to the family members who know nothing about how to take care of someone who is sick. So, going out and educating people about how wonderful it is to be a nurse because it truly is.
- Q. Do you think this could be a part of the education curriculum right from the elementary stage??
A.Yes, prior to Covid I was invited to go to High school to talk to not just the seniors but the staff moreabout the opportunities they could have in the healthcare Industry. Some of them wanted to be doctors so they wanted to know the steps, and some were interested in becoming nurses, so I started the work prior to Covid.
Unfortunately, Covid came, schools were closed. Even now the visitors are not allowed to go in to do presentation. During the summer I had someone who came from the High schools to meet me because she wants to bring back those presentations to students who are lost. They are graduating from the High school. They have no idea where to go. They have no idea what to do. So, we will be trying to bring this back again, hopefully in the fall if Covid allows. But the education really starts from the High School.
- What are the job opportunities you offer?
A.So,we offer job Assistance, and we say it’sfor lifetime. Whether you graduated yesterday or years ago,if you need help finding a job, if you need help with yourresume, we help you.So, our home health AIDEShave first priority through the homecare agency, we have hired about 20-30% of our home health AIDES. They don’t have to go out to look for jobs, we give them first choice. Obviously, they can go elsewhere if they choose to.
I have connections with other Homecare agencies, they call me all the time if they are looking for Home health AIDES. Again, the Homecare sector has tremendous shortage of home health AIDES, so we are able to place those home health AIDES. We have nurses who are working in hospitals, they hold administrative positions, they call here to hire students. So, there are great job opportunities, we do have them with resumes so if they are looking for help putting a resume and a cover letter together, we help them.We have a board we post jobs at. We have people calling us directly asking for our students who are graduates.
- Q. What is the Salary structure for these kinds of jobs?
- For a Nursing assistant if you are working in a nursing home or a hospital you can make anywhere from $18.00 and up. They do make more than a minimum wage.
If you are a phlebotomist, you really start up there.
The more marketable a student is, the more opportunities a student will have.What I mean with the more marketable is;you have nursing assistant who completed the program, we encourage them to go and sit for the state exam. So now you become a Certified Nursing Assistant and are more marketable.
If we have a phlebotomist, we encourage them to take their National Certification. With that the employers will be more willing to hire someone who went a step ahead and did the National Certification.
Employers look at these things.So, we encourage students to go that extra mile to become more marketable.
- What kind of salary structure can the Homecare givers expect?
- I wish and hope that they make more than the minimum wage. Their job is so vital, they are truly making a change in the people’s lives. They are the ones who are the eyes and the ears of the agencies. They are preventing people from being an institution but yet they are lowest paid workers.
Maybe I shouldn’t be saying that, but it is true. So, in my agency I give them above the minimum wage, and I am hoping that other agencies are catching on and realizing how important those Home health AIDESare,and they are also giving them more than the minimum wage. And I know it’s not easy when you are getting most of the revenues from Medicaid who pays the lowest rate, coupled with other administrative expenses. It may be very difficult for an agency to do that, but I think it’s so important that they too are recognized as essential workers. Giving them a little more than just a name means a lot and with that some of them will take the job more seriously.
Q.Is there any Government Assistance available to your Institution or such institutions who provide such Healthcare services?
- A. The Healthcare system needs to change. It needs to put the clients, the patients first. Each time there is change, a Medicaid change, it’s not any change that in my opinion, benefits the patients. It makes it harder for them to enroll in the Medicaid Program Assistance. When the changes are made, they create a domino effect, so the change affects the client, theagency, then it effects the worker. I am hoping that whoever the new Governor is going to be, or the Governor is going to remain that they really sit down and take a look of how those changes are impacting not in such a positive way, impacting those who are truly in need of Medicaid Assistance.
- Doesyour sector has any lobbying company or firms to form reforms in the Healthcare sector?
- A. I really hope and wish that one day Healthcare agencies will really get together. Get together and not be afraid that we are competing against each other because I do believe there is business for everyone. We get so many referrals that we can’t even fulfill the need, if we get together, we become strong and get great changes to this industry. We need to be more Co-operative than Competitive.
- So there is no Government Assistance available to your such agencies?
- Well there is Medicaid who pays mostly for the Homecare services. However, we are not dealing with them directly as it used to be in the past. We have a middleman, the MLTCs, the government goes to them and then they hire us. There again lies the low wages for the Home health Aides because everybody is trying to survive, everybody has administrative fees, So, the MLTC has to do their parts, agencies have to do their parts. There is the assistance but a lot of times you see a lot of cuts and those cuts are not favorable to the MLTC, Client, Home care agencies and then to the Home Health Aides. The assistance is there but with a lot of cuts most of the time.
- What would you like to convey to the young students with regards to the education and career in the Healthcare Industry?
- It’s a great sector. I encourage students to join it. But don’t do it for the money. Healthcare providers don’t get paid enough for what we do. You truly have to have the passion, the need to help those who are in need because you don’t know when you will end up one day. People sometimes think that homecare is for the old,it’s for anybody. I have a client who was 19 years old. You could walk out of that door and something happens, you will find yourself in need of a homecare. I had a young coordinator in twenties, she had cancer and she was on the other side of the fence.
So, I encourage the young people to really explore the healthcare field. There are a lot of opportunities. So don’t do it just for the money, do it because you want to help somebody. Do it because you want to change the life of somebody else. You want to make a difference in our society.
Q.What would you like to advise the community to do?
A.Sometimes family members or clients in need of help find themselves unable to find an agency because they can’t pay for the service. So they go outside of the norm, they hire someone who is not qualified. You don’t know who that person truly is. Homecare agencies are here to help either to give advice or to may be obtain assistance from the government, we are here to protect you. As a homecare agency we do background checks, drug test. We make sure that they are trained, orientation is done, we do supervisory visits-announced and un-announced, any issues that the client might have we have a nurse that handles of these issues and the nurse also reaches out to the physician.Obviously not every single Home health Aide is the best. we do the best that we can, and we ensure that you are safe, and you are receiving the proper care. Please trust the agencies that are in your community.
Q.So the agencies can be a source of ultimate mental health. Is that what you are trying to say?
- With Covid, it brought out a lot of mental health issues that we actually never really took the time to think about. We see it when the nurses go out to the homes, we see it with some of our workers especially at theheight of Covid. We are still a source for these people to talk to. In the first 3 months in 2020, we were on phone with the family members,the Aides ensuring that they were safe, ensuring that there was no other issue going on with them. So, I can say that we are A source for these families as well as Home health aides.
- What are your expectations from the State?
- I am pretty sure they are aware of this Mental health crisis.They are now really talking about Mental Health. Letting people know that there is a 1-800 number. Talk to someone, don’t keep it to yourself. So there is great awareness, whether or not they are putting funding out there to help companies deal with mental illness, either providing services, help , education to employees, I am not sure, But if this is not already in place I would love to see the government get involved helping businesses with funding so that they can train and educate staff especially in the Homecare industry of the science that you need to know because if you know the science you will educate and to educate you need the funding, personnel to go out or probably to have services in-house related to mental health.
- Q. Do you think the State should emphasize the importance of health and the education on health at the school level?
A.Yes, I think they should have a curriculum.
- What kind of a curriculum do you have in your mind?
A.Broadly speaking, discussing different health programs and colleges shouldn’t be so expensive. These students not only some of them don’t know what direction to take but they start to accumulate debt that they can’t even pay.
So, this is why sometimes I advise people that if you are not sure about what you want to do, enroll in a post- secondary training school. That will be the steppingstone to tell you whether or not you would like to become a nurse. Try becoming a nursing Assistant. That will be the path to the nursing program, and it will tell you whether or not you could adapt to be a nurse, not everyone is cut out to be a nurse.So, these are my take on curriculum.
Everyone should be able to afford going to college. I mean we preach educationall the time but you find that after high school this is it. But there are other paths than just going to college. My first path was not going to college. After I left High school, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. My sister was a nurse and she pushed in and said you should be a nurse. But I didn’t know at that time what I wanted to do. So, I enrolled in a nursing Assistance program and the rest is history.
So, I believe these kinds of things need to be instilled in their minds from High School.
- Do you think there should be Visiting Health Experts to talk to the High School students to impart them with more knowledge about healthcare sector?
- It’s being done at the local level.
- How would you like to conclude?
- A. I would just like to tell the young folks that you never give up, follow your dreams, it’s not impossible. If I can do it, they can also do it, they just have to remain focused and be persistent. Education is the key. Follow the Dream!