Immigrants on Long Island train for careers in health care

Juliana Komuno is proving age is just a number. She came to the United States from Ghana in 2016. Now at 65, she's going to school to become a home health aide. 

"If you feel you're [too] old to do something then you're mistaken," she said. "I'm proud of myself."

She's enrolled in a three-week course at Ideal School of Allied Health Care in Hauppauge where she'll learn the necessary tools to receive her certification. Ideal School of Allied Health was founded by Nicole Laborde, who immigrated from Haiti more than 30 years ago with not much other than a big dream to help others.

"It really started with the idea of having nursing assistants then the home health aide came, and now we have 12 curriculums," she said. 

Ideal School offers programs to become certified as a medical assistant, phlebotomist, and EKG technician. 

Nicole, who worked two jobs to put herself through college to become a registered nurse, quickly realized the shortage of health-care providers and the great need for home care services in the community. 

Ideal School of Allied Health Care has graduated over 1,500 students, many of whom like Nicole are immigrants

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"People are reinventing themselves and looking into the healthcare system," Laborde said. "A lot of them come here with no confidence whatsoever and when I start telling my story you can see the light in their eyes."

The school has seen a 30% increase in enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic as health facilities work swiftly to recruit more employees. 

Nicole also founded and runs a health care agency next door and students who graduate and wish to work are given priority. They've provided care to well over 2,000 people in need of help throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. 

"You're going to have challenges like everyone else but you don't give up," Laborde said.