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$1.28M secured for UH to train community health workers

The US Department of Health and Human Services awarded $1.28 million in federal funding to the University of Hawai?i Systems to train new community health workers.

The funding is part of the Community Health Worker Training Program created by the American Rescue Plan, which US Senator Mazie Hirono helped pass last year. Currently, there are more than 2,000 community health workers operating through several organizations throughout Hawai?i.

“As we work to combat our health care worker shortage in Hawaii and across the country, it is crucial that we invest in programs to grow our health care workforce,” said Sen. Hirono. “By enabling UH to train additional community health workers, this funding will help families in Hawai?i, especially those from underserved communities, navigate our health care system so they can access the care they need. I’ll continue working to strengthen Hawai?i’s health care system and eliminate barriers to quality health care.”

In 2021, UH graduated a record number of students enrolled in its Community Health Worker certificate program. In Hawai?i, CHWs are employed by various organizations, including qualified health centers, hospitals, nonprofits, and state agencies. They serve as a bridge between the community and the health care system by providing health education, information, and direct services to community members.

As part of the American Rescue Plan, HHS awarded over $225 million in grants through the Community Health Worker Training Program to 83 organizations across the country. The Community Health Worker Training Program is a multi-year program that supports training and apprenticeship for new community health workers. This funding will be used to train 13,000 new CHWs and help ensure all patients have access to health care.

In 2020, Sen. Hirono helped Community Health Centers across the state secure federal funding during the pandemic, and also helped secure CARES Act funding for the UH Systems to develop workforce training programs in the health care industry.

Last month, during a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing, Senator Hirono emphasized the need to address the strain caused by the shortage of health care workers in Hawai?i and across the country.