Newest campus building to provide jump start to Health Science program

Photo of Dr. Ricardo Custodio standing in front of the new building

Dr. Ricardo Custodio sees the new Administration and Health Science building as providing a boost to his program.

UH West Oʻahu’s new Administration and Health Science building is more than just a facility. For the Health Science faculty, the new building will hopefully prove to be a catalyst to bigger and better things.

Besides giving UH West Oʻahu’s emerging Health Science program a home, the new building represents the culmination of work constructing a foundation upon which to grow and provide a solution for West Oʻahu’s healthcare needs and a doorway to well-paying healthcare careers for students.

The move into the building jump starts UH West Oʻahu’s Health Science program, according to program chair Dr. Ricardo Custodio, a long-time pediatrician and former medical director at the Waiʻanae Coast Comprehensive Health center. The burgeoning program has two academic offerings and next year hopes to add four more, including one incorporating traditional indigenous knowledge. Health Science also has become one of UH West Oʻahu’s signature programs along with Creative Media, Cyber Security, Facilities Management, and Sustainable Community Food Systems.

“I’m just amazed at how things have fallen into place,” said Custodio, an associate professor of Health Science who joined UH West Oʻahu in August 2016. “The path is creating itself.”

The Health Science faculty moved into their new offices in November as part of a soft opening of the roughly L-shaped building that houses the campus’ administrative staff in one section and instructional staff and teaching facilities in the larger section. A grand opening of the building is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018.

Photo of a wide lanai with building and windows on left, seats and tables in the middle, and openings to the outdoors on the right

The new building’s 2nd-floor classrooms open to a 17-foot-wide lanai where students. Classes in the building begin in January 2019.

The Health Science program hopes to address a looming workforce crisis in the healthcare sector, while providing graduating high school, transfer, veterans, and early college students with an avenue to get a bachelor’s degree and foundation for a Masters or Doctoral degree. Custodio sees the program addressing increased educational requirements by the healthcare sector. For example, respiratory technicians who have an Associate’s Degree currently can take the licensing exam; Custodio said the day is coming when the industry will ask technicians to possess a four-year degree.

In doing so a job with top pay of $25 to $30 an hour will have a top tier of $35 to $40 an hour. That’s more in line with the $80,000 income needed to sustain a family of four in Hawaiʻi, Custodio said.

Additionally, Custodio sees the program Health Science moving into groundbreaking educational areas, such as addressing industry needs for care coordination. This could involve educating non-practitioners in care coordination, discharge planning or patient navigation, duties that currently fall to doctors or nurses.

“We want to be the best Health Science program in the country,” Custodio said. He noted UH West Oʻahu may cut the path for institutions to follow in doing so.

The new building is a step in that direction and allows for synergies not available when degrees and classes were elsewhere. Custodio sees the building’s broad second floor lanaʻi as being a place where like-minded students to gather, while Health Science faculty will find it easier to communicate and collaborate with faculty in the hard sciences taught in the building’s first-floor labs.  

“We’re going to get more and more students here that are committed to Health Service,” Custodio said.

UH West Oʻahu currently offers two concentration offerings under the Health Science program —  the Bachelor of Applied Science with a concentration in Respiratory Care and, new for the Fall 2018 semester, the Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration with a concentration in Community Health.

It is working to add four other concentrations for the Fall 2019 semester including:

  • Bachelor of Applied Science with a concentration in Hawaiian & Indigenous Health and Healing;
  • Bachelor of Applied Science with a concentration in Health Information Management;
  • Bachelor of Applied Science with a concentration in Health Science; and
  • Bachelor of Public Administration with a concentration in Long Term Care.

The Hawaiian & Indigenous Health and Healing degree keeps with Custodio’s experience at the Waiʻanae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, where a traditional healing center helped incorporate interventions such as hoʻoponopo (healing through communication), lomilomi (massage), and traditional herbal medicine. Faculty has been hired and a class, Health 204, Intro to Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health & Healing will be offered during the Spring 2019 semester.

Faculty also have been hired for Long Term Care and Health Information Management, with curriculum being designed.

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff