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UH to Begin Training COVID-19 Contact Tracers

June 7, 2020, 1:06 PM HST
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The University of Hawaiʻi System-Hawaiʻi State Department of Health kicks off its Contact Tracing Training Program on Monday.

Contact tracing is an important component of controlling the spread of COVID-19. The first pilot group will have 16 trainees in a free, online one-and-a-half day training for clinical healthcare professionals. The program as a whole expects to train 320 contact tracers by mid-July 2020 as well as hundreds more in the next year. All training slots for clinical healthcare professionals have been filled, with a waiting list of participants.

Since the announcement of the program on May 13, approximately 1,200 people have applied for the broader UH-DOH Contact Tracing Training Program, which has multiple training arms. This training will support the existing public health workforce should there be a surge in cases as more restrictions are lifted.

“We greatly appreciate the positive response we’ve received for this program so far,” said Aimee Grace, UH program lead and director of the UHealthy Hawaiʻi Initiative. “We’re really grateful to be part of a community that rallies so much to help the state in the face of COVID-19.”

Track 1 of the program was developed jointly by UH Mānoa’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene and the DOH. It is an accelerated, one-and-a-half day training course for clinical healthcare professionals who have both an undergraduate degree and a clinical health background: registered nurse, nurse practitioner, social worker, pharmacist, physician or physician assistant.

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Track 2 is a six-week training course being led by UH West Oʻahu for those with undergraduate degrees but without clinical backgrounds.

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Under the DOH-UH Contact Tracing Training Program, the UH Community Colleges (led by Kapi’olani Community College) will also provide expanded community health worker training, beginning in the fall. Community health workers are needed to help reach and support high-risk communities and work with contact tracers to manage disease outbreaks in those communities.

“As the state of Hawaiʻi reopens, we need to be prepared for any potential increase of COVID-19 cases by ensuring that we have trained contact tracers who can quickly identify and facilitate isolating those who are sick and/or exposed to someone with COVID-19,” said Hawaiʻi U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. “The DOH-UH Contact Tracing Training Program will play an essential role in ramping up this critical workforce capacity.”

If there is a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Hawaiʻi beyond the contact tracing capacity of the DOH, those who complete the program may be asked to serve as contact tracers for the state. Completing the training program does not guarantee employment.

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While Track 1 training is full, Track 2 contract tracing training is open to those with undergraduate degrees (health career-oriented preferred). Community Health Worker (CHW) training is open to all with a high school degree or GED.

Those interested in more information about Track 2 or CHW training may sign up online at go.hawaii.edu/AQX or email specific questions to [email protected] Neighbor island residents are encouraged to sign up for more information.

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