May 19, 2009 — A new certification mandate for hemodialysis technicians could seriously impact the patients they serve, according to a University of the Virgin Islands official.
A recent federal ruling requires that all dialysis technicians obtain certification by April 14, 2010. As part of the certification process, hemodialysis technicians must complete an approved training program and pass a national certification exam.
Ilene Garner, Director of the UVI Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning Center (UVICELL), says that if local technicians don't get certified in time, the results for patients in the territory could be "disastrous."
"We wouldn't have any dialysis technicians practicing in 2010," she said. "It would be devastating to the entire territory."
That's why UVICELL is offering a fast-track 10-week program where technicians can receive certification. Funding for tuition may be available from the Department of Labor.
Garner said UVICELL came up with the program, which provides a comprehensive review of the principals of dialysis and patient care, with the help of a group of qualified professionals. It was reviewed and approved by the Schneider Regional Medical Center in St. Thomas and the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital in St. Croix.
Both hospitals have technicians enrolled in the class already, as well as a few nurses. However, Garner said that she is also looking to recruit those workers not affiliated with the hospitals.
"We are looking for those people who are trained, that may not be working full-time. They may be on-call," she said.
She said she hopes in the future, UVICELL could expand the program to those who may not have any experience as hemodialysis technicians, but are looking to enter that field.
UVICELL has also been approved to administer the certification test, which means that class participants can take the exams on St. Thomas or St. Croix, without having to go elsewhere.
The program begins on June 16. It will be offered both at the UVICELL's offices on St. Thomas and through video-conferencing at the University of the Virgin Islands campus on St. Croix. Anyone interested must register by June 4.
For more information, call 692-4230 or visit UVICELL online.
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