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A New Course

Alumnus credits LPN program for his success

Todd Cleckley, KEDPLASMA/Somerset Labs center director, credits much of his success to the Nursing program at Erie 1 BOCES.Looking back, Todd Cleckley can say his classes at the Erie 1 BOCES Workforce Development Center in Cheektowaga helped him land his current leadership role.

Todd is the center director of KEDPLASMA/Somerset Labs in Williamsville. Every day, he helps guide a team of dedicated staff in critical life-saving work, and he cannot imagine where he would be without the influence of his Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) instructors.

“When I started the LPN program, my career was in transition,” he said. “My initial goal was to attend the program, graduate and get a nursing job for a short period of time and take that experience back to where I spent most of my career. That changed for the better after BOCES laid the clinical foundation for me to find a new avenue of success.”

Before signing up for the LPN program, Todd worked in business development in the travel nurse staffing industry for over 20 years, promoting supplemental staffing services to hospitals around the country and throughout the world.

During this transition period, Todd decided to go back to nursing school through Erie 1 BOCES.

KEDPLASMA/Somerset Labs Center Director Todd Cleckley checks over a plasma donor’s chart.“My instructors were dedicated and experienced professionals and they brought that hands-on experience into the classroom,” he stated. “Not only were they teaching us what we needed to know from a textbook, they were making the textbook come alive with their real-life stories and examples. They helped us understand the importance of what nurses do.”

Todd graduated from the LPN program in 2015. After hearing a classmate talk about donating her plasma at KEDPLASMA, he applied and started working there two months after graduation as an LPN plasmapheresis specialist, collecting plasma from the blood of Rh-negative donors.

“I liked the idea that this opportunity was a less traditional path for graduates,” he said.

Plasma donated at KEDPLASMA is used to make Rho (D) immune globulin therapy, which is injected into Rh-negative pregnant mothers to prevent Rh-sensitization. This sensitization can lead to Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn (HDN), a life-threatening disease in which the mother’s immune system attacks the red blood cells in her Rh-positive baby.

“HDN has been eradicated in the Western world as a result of this therapy, but it’s still an issue in less developed countries, so that’s one of our focuses to help people in those countries,” Todd explained. “We’re the sole provider of the plasma utilized to manufacture the No. 1 Anti-D therapy in the country, which is distributed worldwide, so any mother anywhere in the world who receives our therapy, it’s because of donors here in Western New York. That’s something I’m proud of.”

The lab has a dedicated group of plasma donors who come in regularly. Most of them donate twice a week, and anyone who donates is compensated for their time.

Todd noted several other Erie 1 BOCES graduates work for KEDPLASMA, as well. He is hopeful that stream of trained workers continues.

While his initial plan was to stay in a nursing job temporarily, Todd fell in love with the plasma industry, the one-on-one contact with donors and the importance of what KEDPLASMA does. In June 2017, Todd took on additional responsibilities as the community relations liaison to help promote the lab in the community and recruit donors. He became the center director last March.

“I’m excited about being here to not only continue the work, but help raise our level of exposure in the community,” he concluded. “Life had other plans for me once I stepped through the doors of Erie 1 BOCES. This is where I see myself until I retire.”

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Erie 1 BOCES does not discriminate. Erie 1 BOCES is a fully inclusive organization that believes in our established values of respect, diversity and pluralism. Read our non-discrimination notice here.