Retired Greeley farmer receives care from nurse aide students studying at Aims, his old land |

Retired Greeley farmer receives care from nurse aide students studying at Aims, his old land

Earl Bentley, center, 106, of Greeley, is surrounded by Aims Community College certified nurse aide students at Life Care Center. The students are in the midst of completing the required 30 clinical hours at a long-term care facility. Also pictured, back row left to right are Amy Keller, Mollye Myers, Aricka Breidenbach, Lilith West, Heaven Martin, Kaitlyn Palen and Justine Flynn. Front row, left to right are Carlie Lincoln and Alexis Fabian.
For The Tribune |

Percentage of CNA students who passed Colorado’s licensing exam in 2015 by program

Pass rates for October-December 2015 compared to all of 2015:

New Directions in Thornton — 100 percent/94 percent

Colorado Senior Residence in Steamboat Springs — 100 percent/83 percent

Brighton High School — 95 percent/93 percent

Littleton Public Schools — 94 percent/94 percent

Aims Community College — 94 percent/88 percent

Colorado Mountain College Vail Campus — 93 percent/83 percent

South Denver School of Nursing Arts — 92 percent/93 percent

— There are about 100 educational institutions offering CNA programs.

Bentley would later inherit the family plot, add to it and continue working the land with his wife, Olga, two sons and a sister. In 1969, Bentley retired from farm life and sold off 150 acres but maintained a small parcel along 47th Avenue between 16th and 20th streets where he built two homes.

Although it would cease to serve as a farm in the traditional sense, Bentley’s land nevertheless continues to bear fruit. The buyer in 1969 was Aims Community College, which had hosted its first classes just two years earlier at its downtown Greeley site. But school administrators were searching for a new home — one that would provide for expansion to meet the educational needs of future generations. Bentley’s 150 acres would comprise the majority of Aims’ 175-acre campus.

Today, more than four decades later, Bentley again is reaping the benefits from the same land that once provided his family with food, money and a place to call home. He’s 106 years old and a resident of Life Care Center in Greeley. Among some of the people who provide him with daily care are students in the Certified Nurse Aide program at Aims who are required to perform 30 clinical hours at a local long-term care facility in order to earn their certificate.

Prior to the clinical portion of the program, CNA students attend theory and lab classes at the Allied Health and Sciences building, which is located less than a stone’s throw from the two homes Bentley built with his own hands off of 47th Avenue.

When the students who are assigned to Life Care learn about Bentley, “They get so tickled about the opportunity to care for a 106-year-old who used to farm the land beneath our feet,” said Heather Brown, chairwoman of the CNA and Medical Preparation programs at Aims. “He loves to tell stories and talk about the old days of Greeley. He really seems to come to life when he sees the students.”

Certified nurse aides assist home and long-term care patients with a variety of basic health care needs, such as performing non-invasive monitoring of vital signs, assisting with nutritional intake needs and helping patients with grooming and hygiene, to name a few. They usually report to a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse.

There continues to be a growing need for all types of nurses in the United States, primarily due to the aging of the baby boomer generation, Brown said. She expects that need to continue for at least the next 15 years, as evidenced by the growing student enrollment numbers in Allied Health and Sciences programs at Aims.

Last year, 220 CNA students earned their certificate. About 350 are on pace to complete the program this year, Brown said. The Med Prep program — which pairs high school juniors and seniors with college level courses to introduce them to a variety of health care careers — also has seen significant growth, expanding to 55 students this year from 15 a year ago, Brown said.

Aims is proving successful in preparing students for the real world. Between October and December of 2015, 94 percent of Aims CNA students passed their state-licensing exam. The pass rate for all of 2015 was 88 percent. Those numbers are good enough to rank the CNA program at Aims fifth out of more than 100 educational institutions throughout the state offering nurse aide training.

Aims faculty also are proving themselves successful in connecting those graduates to health care careers — often right here in Greeley at facilities such as Life Care Center. As for Bentley, his daughter-in-law Laura says he gives back to the students just as much as he receives from their care. When he’s not spinning yarns about Greeley’s horse and buggy days, he enjoys telling stories about the places he and Olga traveled during their retirement.

For decades, Bentley and his wife traveled the country by rail and the world by ship, Laura said in a letter to Aims. Even after her death, Bentley continued to travel. On one occasion, while on a cruise, he and the other passengers were rescued after the ship became stranded.

Bentley’s last voyage took place seven years ago when he traveled to Haiti at the age of 99.

Students often ask how he was able to stay so active for such a long time. Bentley attributes his longevity to his love of pranks, making people laugh and always keeping a stash of chocolate nearby, Laura said in the letter. ❖

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