Maui Business

UHMC to Offer Community Health Worker Certification Programs

July 22, 2015, 11:23 AM HST
* Updated July 22, 11:24 AM
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uhmc campus

University of Hawai‘i Maui College. Courtesy photo.

By Maui Now Staff

The University of Hawaiʻi Maui College will launch two new short-term certificate programs this fall for prospective students interested in community health.

The new Community Health Worker/Health Navigator 1 Certificate of Competence requires 15 credits, and will allow participants to finish in less than a year. Certification can be earned in one or two semesters; class schedules will be designed for participants already balancing work and family.

New distance-learning options will be available for Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Hāna and Lāhainā students.

Fall classes at UH Maui College begin on Aug. 24.

Haunani Kamakana, a navigator at Molokaʻi General Hospital. Courtesy photo.

Haunani Kamakana, a navigator at Molokaʻi General Hospital. Courtesy photo.


Maui County’s community health workers’ job titles include outreach specialist, wellness navigator, program assistant and health aide. They serve as bridges between the community and healthcare and social services providers, helping to ensure services are accessible and culturally appropriate.


Community health workers often provide care coordination and supportive counseling.

“This work is about trust and compassion,” said Haunani Kamakana, a navigator at Molokaʻi General Hospital.

They also focus on prevention, leading outreach and education efforts, and supporting individuals, families and communities in making healthy changes.


Dr. Joe Humphry, Medical Director of the Lānaʻi Community Health Center, noted that “CHWs connect people to the resources they need to stay healthy, detect problems early on and improve management of chronic conditions. They are essential members of our healthcare team.”

The CHW certificate was developed with input from local healthcare, public health and social service employers, as well as national and state efforts such as Hawaiʻi’s Healthcare Innovation Plan, and workforce studies conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Project partners include Lānaʻi Community Health Center and Na Puʻuwai. Leadership and key staff from Lānaʻi Community Health Center, Na Puʻuwai, Hui No Ke Ola Pono, Mālama I Ke Ola, Maui Family Support Services, Mālama Family Recovery Center, the Maui District Health Office and other organizations have also participated in interviews to assess their workforce needs.

The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the demand for CHWs is growing faster than average, with 25% growth expected between 2012 and 2022. According to the Hawaiʻi Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ Hawaiʻi Health Careers website, that translates to 50 job openings each year in Hawaiʻi.

“This kind of collaboration between the college and industry experts is critical for developing certificates that support community needs, and prepare students with the real-world skills they need for careers with local businesses and organizations,” said Chancellor Lui Hokoana.

A partnership with Kapiʻolani Community College and the state Department of Education will also bring Kapiʻolani’s popular School Health Aide program to Maui for the first time this fall. Classes are open to current aides working in DOE schools, and distance-learning options for aides on Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi are planned for next year.

The School Health Aide Certificate of Competence was developed by Kapiʻolani’s nursing faculty in consultation with public health nurses and practicing school health aides, and focuses on best practices to keep keiki healthy, safe, and ready to learn.

Both projects are supported by a new US Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant awarded on Oct. 1, 2014, and are designed to meet Maui County’s need for a skilled health and social services workforce.

To learn more about these new offerings, go online or contact Health Program Specialist Selene LeGare  at 984-3274.

The School Health Aide and Community Health Worker certificates are partially funded by a grant from the US Department of Labor. Funding does not pay for student costs to participate. The Nursing and Human Services programs are equal opportunity employers/programs. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

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