U.S. Surgeon General visits campus, learns about Health Science program

Photo of a group of people with a man in a white uniform standing at center. In the background is the UH West Oahu Great Lawn and the James & Abigail Campbell Library

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams with students, faculty and administrators during his Tuesday visit to the campus

The U.S. Surgeon General visited UH West Oʻahu on Tuesday afternoon, taking a tour of the new Administration and Health Science Building and learning about the campus’ efforts to provide allied health career education.

Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, a physician who serves as the 20th Surgeon General of the United States, was welcomed to the school at Hale Kuahuokalā with a Native Hawaiian Protocol and the signing of Mele Honouliuli by summer academy students. Chancellor Maenette Benham greeted Adams at the Hale, where Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Jeffrey Moniz also welcomed him on the behalf of the school’s faculty and staff.

Man in a white uniform stretching his arm up high to take a selfie with students

Dr. Adams taking a selfie with students

Dr. Adams thanked the students for their greeting and took a selfie with the students from schools on the Big Island and on the Waiʻanae Coast.  

“You guys are the right now,” Dr. Adams said, explaining they have the power to change the trajectory of health care. 

Dr. Adams was in Hawaiʻi to address a National Medical Association conference. While here he visited Molokaʻi, participated in talks with Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green, and visited UH West Oʻahu. 

Dr. Adams’ visit was an opportunity for UH West Oʻahu to feature its Health Science programs, a signature program that addresses community and workforce needs. UH West Oʻahu will inaugurate new concentrations focusing on health careers with the Fall 2019 Semester, including Hawaiian and Indigenous Health & Healing, Health Information Management; Long-Term Care, and Health Professions. The campus also has concentrations in Respiratory Care, Health Care Administration and Community Health. 

Dr. Adams chatted with students interested in health careers and with Health Science faculty as well as heard a presentation on the Health Science program in a classroom at the new Administration and Health Science building. Dr. Ric Custodio, a long-time pediatrician and Health Science program chair explained UH West Oʻahu is attempting to address a workforce shortage in health science and will have degree concentrations in six areas once the fall semester begins.  

Man standing in a hale with woman in red dress next to him

Chancellor Maenette Benham introduced faculty and administrators to Dr. Adams

“We are not trying to get a seat at the table,” said Custodio, who made a case for the providing of more scholarships and programmatic resources to attract more students. “We are building the table. We believe that if we create new, innovative health science bachelor level degrees of the future, we can transition our first generation, low-income students into marketable and sustainable health care careers.”

Dr. Adams also heard presentations regarding indigenous health from Kauʻi Baumhofer, UH West Oʻahu assistant professor of indigenous health science.

The Surgeon General is known as the “nation’s doctor” and oversees the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, which is made up of more than 6,000 uniformed public health officers. Dr. Adams was appointed as Surgeon General in 2017 and has as his motto “better health through better partnerships.” The mission of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. is to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of the United States.

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff