UH and DOH training community health workers

The University of Hawaiʻi and Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH) are ramping up efforts to enhance health outreach in high-risk communities affected by COVID-19 with plans to train 100 individuals to become community health workers in the next year. The UH online training program is open to Hawaiʻi residents (including residents on the Big Island) with fall classes scheduled to begin on August 24, 2020.

The 16-credit certificate program is offered online and statewide through Kapi’olani Community College in partnership with the other UH community colleges, and is the third arm of the UH-DOH Contact Tracing Training Program.

The program will prepare students to function as outreach community health workers who will be responsible for connecting people to health resources and services to improve the quality of their health and lives. The work of community health workers may entail working closely with contact tracers to help manage COVID-19 disease outbreaks in communities throughout the state. While training will be provided through UH, employment is not guaranteed upon completion of the program.

This subject is timely, as Dr. Bruce Anderson has said that 25% of all the COVID-19 cases in the state are among Pacific Islanders, whereas Pacific Islanders only make up 4% of the state population.  Their rate of COVID-19   is higher than Caucasians, Native Hawaiians, Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, and all other races in the state.   Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a Thursday press conference that he’d been meeting with members of the Pacific Islander community on O’ahu and it was clear the community was severely lacking in clear communication about the COVID-19 pandemic and lacking in overall health resources.

Lisa Radak, Dean of Health Academic Programs at Kapi’olani Community College, said the community health workers are the ones who establish relationships by going out into the vulnerable populations and helping them work through health challenges.  She said that one person can make a difference.

Training options and eligibility

Part-time and full-time training opportunities are available. To be eligible for the program, interested candidates are required to have a high school diploma or GED.

Training for the part-time CHW certificate program runs from August 24, 2020 to May 2021. Two full-time options are also available in fall 2020 and spring 2021. The fall program begins on August 24 and ends in December 2020. The spring program begins in January 2021 and ends in May 2021.

Those interested in applying for the fall programs should submit an application and apply to Kapiʻolani CC by August 10. In addition, applicants will need to complete the online participant survey. Neighbor island residents are especially encouraged to apply.

For more information, email oshi@hawaii.edu.