Expanding Community Health Worker Training Helps Underserved Communities
$1.29 million grant will help address health disparities for people living in economically and medically underresourced communities in the state of Hawaii through a project called Kapiʻolani Community College Community Health Worker Training Program (CHWTP): Removing barriers to care in urban Polynesia.
It’s part of $11.3 million the University of Hawaii receives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support programs and research that aim to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and stimulate Hawaiihealth personnel.
The Kapiʻolani CC The project, funded by President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act Health Resources and Services Administration’s Community Health Worker Training Program, will expand training for new community health workers (CSAs), extend the existing CSA skills through emergency medical technician training, and deploy CSAs to address areas of greatest social vulnerability to improve health equity.
“KapiʻolaniCommunity health worker training program serves as a bridge between the formal health system and vulnerable communities in the state of Hawaii. This federal grant provides the resources Kapiʻolani must leverage the expertise of our academic health program and expand its reach in the communities we serve,” said the lead researcher. Maria Bautista, Acting Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “We honor the queen Kapiʻolanithe vision to provide education and access to quality health care Hawaiithe most vulnerable communities thanks to this project.
Statewide CSA coaching
The Kapiʻolani The Community College Health Worker Education Program is a 16-credit training program with continuous statewide recruitment in local communities. As of 2019, more than 50% of students were from environmentally, economically, and/or educationally disadvantaged communities, including 100% of students (33 of 33) enrolled from 2019-2020 and 73% of students (112 of 153) enrolled from 2020–21. The expansion of the program from 2020 and beyond has come through the Hawaii State Department of Health-uh Contact tracing training program, which is part of the UHealthy Hawaii Initiativewhose staff and programs served as the basis for this grant.
“Cohorts for this program will be drawn from residents of environmentally, economically or educationally disadvantaged communities and will include Native Hawaiian, Chuukese and Marshalese students, first-generation students, residents of housing projects and students from the most socially vulnerable in LānaʻiMaui, Kauaʻi and Hawaii the island,” said Joey Dewater, Kapiʻolani CC Community Health Worker Program Coordinator.
The program aims to prepare 30 participants per year and includes apprenticeship with employers that leads to long-term employment.
On Oʻahu, CSA participants will complete competency certificate training in person and through external partnerships with Waiʻanae Kōkua Kalihi Coast and Valley Comprehensive Health Center. The domains of Waiʻanae and the Kalihi Valley rank among the highest for social vulnerability in the state with large populations of Native Hawaiian, Chuukese, and Marshalese residents in public housing projects.
Participants from the islands of LānaʻiMaui, Hawaii and Kauaʻi will complete their training online. Neighboring islands face unique challenges in recruiting health professionals and reaching the most socially vulnerable remote communities.
Emergency medical technician training
In addition to the expansion of CSA training, the program will aim to extend the skills of 10 practitioners CSAs with a full-time 19.6 credit emergency medical technician (EMT) training to obtain a EMT state license. After completing coursework, students will be placed in ambulances in their area to undergo 350 hours of paid clinical training, with the goal of obtaining full-time employment as CSA–EMT. CSA–EMTs will be hired in ambulances to reduce the number of avoidable calls and transports to 911, CSA services to common 911 users: kūpuna (seniors), homeless community members and people in mental health crisis.
“We have worked with our community partners to bring a community member training program in place and address a shortage of CSAs and community paramedicine trained EMTs,” Dewater said. “This program was created directly from their feedback. We are very proud of the program we have put in place and are excited to get to work.
The Kapiʻolani Community College Health Worker Training Program will begin its next series of statewide courses in January 2023. For more information and to apply, please contact the Recruitment Facilitator Hilary Hackerhackerh@hawaii.edu.