by Natasha Richardson
Natasha Richardson is the 2021 recipient of The Queen’s Health Systems Native Hawaiian Health Program, Community Health Worker Scholarship. This is her thank you letter to donors.
I’m currently a student at Kapi‘olani Community College in the community health worker certificate program, which I plan to finish this summer. Healthcare has always been a passion for me and I’m glad I came across this program.
This past year has been quite hard for many individuals with the coronavirus pandemic. The loss of family, friends, coworkers and financial stability has society in a frenzy. The vaccine is available, but normalcy has not yet been met. Although coronavirus has brought negativity to the world, I have been able to experience both negative and positive aspects of the coronavirus. I mentioned I’m currently a student, but I also work full-time.
This was not what I experienced a year ago. I was furloughed from a high-paying job with Avalon Health Care – Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, leaving me only working part-time with my current employer. As you may have heard, many individuals are still waiting for unemployment benefits, and that is how I felt when I did not get any answers for my benefits.
In June 2020, I was able to change status from part-time to full-time with Blood Bank of Hawaii, which was such a relief. Opportunities to become more employable came about and I took advantage of them, such as the medical reimbursement billing specialist program with Leeward Community College, which I completed in December 2020 and now I’m certified. When I received the email regarding the CHW program, I took advantage of it, too! Now, in August 2021, I plan to continue my education to complete a Bachelor of Science in healthcare administration degree.
The award of this scholarship will help me, because the last course I need to take for the CHW certificate is a practicum, which requires me to complete 120 hours, thus losing work and income. I’m very thankful for being awarded this generous scholarship!
I aspire to become a community health worker and want to work with the Native Hawaiian community. As a Native Hawaiian, it is my kuleana to give back to my community, whether it is outreach, sharing my knowledge, volunteering, or just helping the kupuna walking down the street.
I’m intrigued with one of the programs, which started in 2007 at The Queen’s Health Systems, to help Native Hawaiians. I did research for an assignment and learned about Ke Ku‘una Na‘au Native Hawaiian Behavioral Health Initiative, which uses cultural competence and our aloha to serve patients. Patient navigators are assigned to patients who need help while hospitalized, and they work with them even after discharge, for about 30–90 days. I hope to one day be employed by The Queen’s Health Systems as a patient navigator.
Thank you once again for all that you do for the community. Mahalo nui loa!