At Ideal School of Allied Healthcare in Hauppauge, Suffolk County, there are over a dozen courses to prepare you for the health care industry. They include classes to become a home health aide, nurse’s aide, medical assistant and phlebotomist.
Many of the students have immigration stories, ones similar to that of the school’s founder, Nicole Laborde. At the age of 15, Laborde left her parents and her home in Haiti. Without speaking a word of English, but with plenty of hopes and dreams, she moved to Flatbush, Brooklyn.
“I went to high school during the day time and I had to go to night school to learn the language and also to better myself, because of some of the classes were so difficult during the daytime,” said Laborde.
That perseverance and determination paid off. She worked her way up to becoming a registered nurse. Seeing the continued care needed after a patient is discharged from a hospital, she decided to open Ideal Home Care, which provides residential medical services in her Long Island community.
“It’s about compassion, understanding what they are going through and the fear,” said Laborde. “The nurse at the bedside is really the person who’s bringing the peace of mind to either the patient or the family member.”
Laboard saw first-hand the dire need in her profession, and in one area in particular – home health aides.
“We have baby boomers, people are living longer due to medications, and where do they want to stay? In the comforts of their homes,” said Laborde. “It’s important that we have health care providers not just in the nursing homes or the hospitals, but as well as the home settings.”
The goal is to allow people with medical needs to stay where they are most comfortable – at home, while receiving the professional care they need. But then Laboard soon noticed the shortage of well-trained caregivers.
“On a weekly basis, I get more than 30 calls from the community, family members looking for help and we don’t have enough workers,” said Laborde. “So what can I do to help alleviate the shortage, it’s by creating a training school.”
The Ideal School of Allied Healthcare opened in 2013 and since then, has had several thousand graduates. The school is licensed by the New York State Department of Education and strives to place their students upon certification. Enrollment has only increased since the pandemic.
“We firmly believe after you graduate you need to be working,” said Laborde. “You are needed.”
Laborde says she sees herself in many of her students. The school, and the company that provides certified staffers, are her ways of paying it forward.
“I am an immigrant myself, so most of my students, they’re immigrants,” said Laborde. “It’s very fulfilling knowing that I can prepare the next generation to go out and help those in need.”
She wants her students to know if she can overcome adversity and have a rewarding career, so can they.
“They stay in the community that they’re from and they’re making a difference in their own community,” said Laborde.