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Hudson Valley Community College Offers New Community Health Navigation Degree and Certificate for Fall 2017



Reimagining community health outreach and lowering overall health care costs are the driving factors behind two new academic programs at Hudson Valley Community College this fall.

Hudson Valley’s Community Health Navigation degree and certificate programs have begun accepting students for the Fall 2017 term.

“This is really a re-imagining of the traditional community health model,” said Patty Hyland, chair of the Cardiorespiratory and Emergency Medicine Department at Hudson Valley. “The navigators will be working under licensed health care professionals and we are hoping that they can work in the communities where they live, so they are part of the fabric of the community.”

Community health navigators serve as a liaison between clients and the healthcare system at large. Serving as coaches and facilitators, they work in the community directly with patients, providers and other healthcare professionals to connect clients with services and provide support for those navigating the healthcare landscape.

These two new credit-bearing programs are the first of their kind to be approved by the NYS Education Department and will hopefully serve as a pilot for creating similar programs at SUNY community colleges statewide.

The concept of community health navigators represents a new way to approach community health care, with two-fold benefits. For one, it helps individual patients to break down the barriers to care and find their way through the sometimes daunting healthcare system by providing help with navigating things like insurance, prescriptions, transportation, and follow-up care.

“From the perspective of the health care community, this is a wise investment for the long term,” Hyland said. “The work of health navigators cut down on the overall costs of healthcare in the region because they help prevent people from avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations or ending up back in the emergency room if they fall behind in their follow-up care plan.”

According to a recent survey, there is a demand in the Capital Region for those who possess the skills offered by these programs. Both the Alliance for Better Health Care (Ellis Medicine, St. Peter’s Health Partners and St. Mary’s Healthcare, Amsterdam) and Albany Medical Center’s Center for Healthcare Systems Transformation have elaborated the need for qualified trained community health navigators. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the job market for this field will continue to grow at the faster-than-average rate of 13 percent from 2014-2024, with an anticipated growth of approximately 15,600 jobs over that time.

The Community Health Navigation degree option is designed for students who want to immediately enter the workforce or continue their education in a variety of community health, social services and allied health fields. The certificate program is designed primarily for students who have some background in a healthcare field or have completed coursework in a related area.

All credits in the A.A.S. program will transfer for those who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree through the University at Albany’s Social Welfare program or Excelsior College’s Health Sciences or Public Health programs. Students who earn a certificate may apply their credits toward a Community Health Navigation A.A.S. degree or an Individual Studies degree at Hudson Valley.

Both programs are offered through the college’s Cardiorespiratory and Emergency Medicine department. For more information, contact the department at (518) 629-7454.

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