Community Health Workers conduct outreach (Photo courtesy: Hilary Hacker),

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 (CHW) in the next year. The UH online training program is open to Hawaiʻi residents with fall classes scheduled to begin on August 24, 2020.

The 16-credit certificate program is offered online and statewide through Kapiʻolani 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 CHWs 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.

“A community health worker serves an important role within our communities,” said Lisa Radak, dean of health academic programs at Kapiʻolani CC. “They establish relationships and provide support through connections to critical resources and services. They help to quiet the fears of our most vulnerable populations by letting clients know the challenges they are facing now will not always be a part of their life. To our future students and graduates I would say, ‘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.

As of July 24, the UH-DOH Contact Tracing Training Program has trained 450 qualified individuals who will be available to be activated by the DOH, as needed, to trace known contacts of COVID-19 positive cases throughout Hawaiʻi.

For more information, email oshi@hawaii.edu.

male speaking to female client
A Community Health Worker gathers information from a client (Photo courtesy: Hilary Hacker)