Blazing a path to health care jobs

Custom Search 2

<p>Honokaa High student Sterling Carpio looks over a schematic with Duane Uyetake,of Hale Ho’ola facilities during the Healthways on-site work at Hale Ho’ola Hamakua in Honokaa. PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON | SPECIAL TO NHN</p>
<p>Duane Uyetake, of the Hale Ho’ola maintenance department, shows Honokaa High School student, Sterling Carpio, work on vehicles during the Healthways program. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>X-Ray technician Kimberly McKay shows Christina Enoj how to position the camera over fellow Honokaa High student Justine Mahi-Beamer while Hermis Jelky observes. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON| SPECIAL TO NHN</p>
<p>X-ray technician Kimberly McKay shows Honokaa High students Justine Mahi-Beamer, Hermis Jelky and Christina Enoj a chest x-ray. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON| SPECIAL TO NHN</p>
<p>Hale Ho’ola Hamakua volunteer services coordinator, Stephanie Peikert, shows some volunteer ID cards for the pet therapy animals. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON| SPECIAL TO NHN</p>

For students in Honokaa High School’s Health Services Pathway program, learning isn’t just a classroom experience.

For the first time, the school is partnering with Hale Ho’ola Hamakua and has created a hands on health care learning program that is giving 56 Honokaa students direct health care experience working with professionals.

“The best thing for the students is to be in the environment,” said Alana Haitsuka-Fernandez, Honokaa High School health services and hospitality teacher.

Haitsuka-Fernandez said the school’s Health Services Pathway is a two-year program for juniors and seniors where they receive academic and technical training in the health care field. Through the program, students get hands on training both in the classroom with a nurse, and at Hale Ho’ola Hamakua. Students can also join the Health Occupation Students of America – a national student health career organization.

Hale Ho’ola Hamakua, once called Honokaa Hospital, is a critical access hospital with four long-term care beds, 46 skilled nursing and intermediate care beds, 24-hour emergency room services, and laboratory, radiology, dietary and social work services. It is in close proximity to the school and has a friendly, welcoming staff.

Haitsuka-Fernandez said Honokaa High School students are able to walk over once a week in two groups. The 56 students now in the program were randomly separated into two groups. Half the students do classroom work with a nurse learning procedures and skills training, while the other group is at Hale Ho’ola working with the staff. Each group does research and shares it with the class when they are together.

Next year, Haitsuka- Fernandez said there would be about 75 students in the classroom – one class of the advanced students from this year, and two new classes.

“We want our students to be able to graduate and get jobs,” Haitsuka-Fernandez said.

Almost through its first year of the program, they are able to focus on the future. She said their goal for next year is to have the second-year students in the program be able to take the certified nursing assistant exam to become qualified nursing assistants.

“I think it is going very well,” Haitsuka-Fernandez said of the program. “I feel like I have learned so much. We are learning together.”

Stephanie Peikert, volunteer services coordinator for Hale Ho’ola Hamakua, said she also feels that the program has been successful. She said that students are able to work with nurses, emergency room staff, x-ray technicians, registered dietitians, physical and occupational therapists, facilities staff, administration staff, and health care workers in other areas.

“It is a good, broad learning experience,” Peikert said of the program. “Everyone here in the field is willing to mentor.”

Duane Uyetake, a Hale Ho’ola Hamakua staff member in the maintenance department, has been working with some of the students to teach them skills in facilities and operations.

“I think the program is really good for our facility and for the students,” Uyetake said. “My experience has been really great with the kids.”

Uytake said that the program not only exposes the students to ideas for future jobs, but also teaches them life skills in a work environment.

“It gives opportunities to the students,” Uytake said.

Christina Enoj and Hermis Jelke, juniors at Honokaa High School, said they both plan to enter the health care field, either as nurses or doctors.

Justine Mahi-Beamer, senior, worked with X-ray technician Kimberley McKay through the program.

A senior, Mahi-Beamer said she hopes to become a coroner. She said that through the Health Pathways program, she has gotten her CPR certification in the classroom and learned other valuable skills that will help her next year in college.

“Our teacher gives you a lot of hands on learning experiences,” Mahi-Beamer said.

She said that without the class, she probably wouldn’t have visited Hale Ho’ola Hamakua and had the opportunity to work with McKay.

“Usually, if you want to go into the medical field, you don’t really get to go into the hospital and work with the technician that is doing what you want to do,” Mahi-Beamer said.

To volunteer at Hale Ho’ola Hamakua, contact Peikert at 932-4153, or email For information on the Health Services Pathway at Honokaa High School, call 775-8800.