As a teenager in 1985, Nicole Laborde immigrated without her parents from Port Au Prince, Haiti to Flatbush, Brooklyn. Landing at JFK Airport, she had very little money but huge dreams, ambition, and drive. So working two menial, hourly pay jobs a day while she was attending Prospect Heights High School embraced her desire to succeed.
Laborde often handled chores and caregiving tasks for people, so she channeled these opportunities into earning her Licensed Practical Nurse degree from the Vocational Education Extension Board in Freeport. She then went on to graduate from SUNY Stony Brook as a Registered Nurse, logging service in Stony Brook Medical Center’s respiratory care unit.
Recognizing the growth of home health care, twelve years ago Laborde combined her education, fieldwork, and initiative to launch Ideal Home Care Services. Today Ideal has more than 100 clients in Nassau and Suffolk.
Also recognizing the demand for workers in the health care sector, in July 2013 Laborde launched Ideal School For Allied Health Care in the Hauppauge Industrial Park. More than 500 students are currently enrolled. Laborde has evolved as an employer of about 200 people.
Many of the students attending Ideal School see Laborde’s story as a role model. They are motivated after deciding that they want to gain the skills and re-package themselves for a health care occupation, whether it is home health care, working in a hospital, a nursing home, or a doctor’s office.
About 50 percent of Ideal’s students come from communities such as Brentwood, Central Islip, and Bay Shore. The rest mainly come from the communities of Medford, Coram, Wyandanch, Amityville, Ronkonkoma, or Hauppauge. Some come from Nassau and even the five boroughs.
Many of them are foreign, immigrating from the Caribbean and Central America. Their goal is for Ideal’s education and training to improve their lives, position them to earn more income, and develop their careers. They are preparing to become phlebotomists, CNA nursing aides, pharmacy techs, electrocardiogram techs, and more. Many opportunities in this sector have emerged through technology.
“Covid actually triggered increased enrollment at Ideal,” Laborde said. “Many of the new students saw through the news media how hospitals, nursing homes, and health facilities appeared eager to recruit more workers. Since many people were unemployed and their regular activities were limited, the idea of education to acquire a skill or earn a credential became very appealing. Relatively quickly, they would be able to qualify for an opening at a hospital or health facility.”
Laborde is making plans to expand both of her enterprises to the next level. The Biden administration has already announced plans for major increases in Medicare/Medicaid funding, especially as it relates to home health care. “This will fuel more service provider opportunities in home health care, while setting up a demand for even more workers,” she predicts.