Therapy Program First of its Kind

A few years ago, Jodie Diener of Wai Ola `O Hina therapy clinic realized there was a large health therapy gap on Molokai. So, for the first time in Hawaii, Diener and Donna Haytko-Paoa, coordinator at University of Hawaii (UH) Maui College, Molokai, created a combination physical, occupational and speech therapy certificate.

With the island’s aging population growing – kupuna here represent 17 percent of the island – Diener decided not to wait for therapists to come here; she wanted to create a “homegrown workforce.” With the help of the Molokai Community Rural Health Association (MCRHA) and Molokai’s community college, the state’s first Therapeutic Activity Aide Certificate (TAAC) was born.

Last week, about 20 students were honored in a ceremony in which they were recognized by the college, MCRHA, community members, friends and family for completing the TAAC program.

“This is the first class in Hawaii go through this training program – and it’s happening on Molokai,” Haytko-Paoa said, followed by a cheer from the crowd attending the lunchtime ceremony at Kulana `Oiwi.

are needed,” Peabody said. “There’s a gap helping patients when they go home,” from a hospital stay.

Diener said they are in the process of applying to the state Department of Labor to recognize the certification in the health field, which should be complete within a year. They need a Medicaid designation, she said, to get them a proper level of pay to their training.

However, neither Diener nor these 20 or so students wanted to wait for the state to recognize the certificate before going ahead with the training – this way, if the certificate is recognized, the professionals can get right to work.

She added that there were many organizations and people involved in making the program a success – everywhere they went for help, they were “met with completely open arms.”

Deiner would like to thank the MCRHA board (past and present), USDA Rural Development, Molokai Rural Development Project, UH Maui College Molokai, UHMCC Allied Health Department, Kapio`lani CC, Dr. Caryl Hitchcock, Dale and Beverly Moore, Na Pu`uwai, Molokai Community Health Center, Molokai General Hospital, AHEC, Auco Construction, Fysiotherapie Hawaii, and our ohana and kupuna of Molokai.

First In Hawaii: TAAC graduates
Kari Kikukawa, April Madella, Laurie-Kim Pule, Lorna Keliipuleole, Ryan Johnston, Ashly Reyes-Connelly, Ishay Honokaupu
TAAC II graduates
Suliana Aki, Anela Albino-Florendo, Jane “Claire” Cappelle, Lyvette Caspillo-Aalona, Larissa Gorospe, Kauluna`e Hamakua, Nicol Kealoha-Carmichael, Alanna Kekoa-Kalamau, Tina-Marie Matthews, Shannon “Malia” Nishihira, Barbara Rapanot, Maile Silva, Emily Valdez, Corena Wright

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