Futuro Health, MercyPLUS, OpusVi give attention to looming behavioral health crisis with Community Health Worker program

4 min read


In the wake of the pandemic, a lingering reality looms over the healthcare industry: an unprecedented workforce shortage. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates a shortage of 18 million workers in healthcare by 2030. Moreover, more than one quarter of adults in the U.S. experience some type of behavioral health disorder in a given year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That could include alcohol use, substance use, or other behaviors that impact an individual's well-being. Since the onset of the pandemic, psychological distress and substance use have reached new levels in the U.S., according to an analysis by McKinsey’s Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare

Enter Futuro Health, Mercy College PLUS (MercyPLUS), and OpusVi — three partners with a shared vision to meet these demands by providing inclusive access to agile and scalable training solutions. In mid-July 2021, the organizations introduced the Community Health Worker with Behavioral Health Emphasis training program to bridge a specific workforce shortage gap.  

The nine-month online program, delivered by MercyPLUS and OpusVi, is open to those with a high school diploma or GED. Futuro Health has sponsored full scholarships to qualified Californians in 2021 and will continue to so in 2022 (seats are limited). Since the program's inception, more than 150 students of diverse backgrounds have enrolled, expanding the frontline care workforce to more reflect the communities being served.  

Graduates can go on to jobs that vary in titles, including health educators, navigators, health coaches, and many others in a multitude of healthcare settings such as hospitals, community clinics, primary care practices, health app companies, and more. As one of the many in-demand roles in the health industry ecosystem today, Community Health Workers have close ties to underserved populations and promote health in communities by assisting individuals to adopt healthy behaviors.  

A strong partnership to grow the healthcare workforce

“Futuro Health seeks to alleviate the shortages at the frontline of healthcare and invites diverse communities to attain quality credentials to serve their communities,” says Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO of Futuro Health. “We value this collaboration with MercyPLUS and OpusVi. In partnership, we bring what we each do best in order to move at the speed of need.” 


OpusVi and Futuro Health share a similar origin story: The organizations were founded by large health systems with the intent to reinvigorate workforce development in healthcare. While OpusVi was founded by Dignity Health (now CommonSpirit Health) to transform healthcare workforce development, Futuro Health was established by Kaiser Permanente and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) to grow the largest network of allied health workers in the nation, starting in California.  

Delivering on relevant curriculum in response to the workforce shortage 

To train more Community Health Workers with behavioral health orientation to enter the workforce, Futuro Health, MercyPLUS, and OpusVi worked collaboratively to shape a new curriculum. The Community Health Worker online program includes an invaluable network of colleagues, as well as practice through immersive experiences co-developed with Mursion.   

For incumbent healthcare workers, the behavioral health component of the program can be taken as a standalone micro-credential. For example, eligible nurses may wish to take the training for continuing education credit. 

“Community Health Workers remain one of the fastest-growing job categories in the United States, which is why we invested to create the program. Now, thanks to Futuro Health scholarships, successful California applicants will be able to attend for almost no out-of-pocket cost, and we can continue to provide access to workforce development opportunities across California,” says Julie DeLoia, Chief Academic Officer of OpusVi.


The Community Health Worker coursework is online, flexible, and designed for the working adult. Students should expect to commit approximately 20 hours per week towards their studies. 

Upskilling across the country, starting in California

This is just the beginning for the Futuro Health, MercyPLUS, and OpusVi partnership as they look ahead to grow the next generation of healthcare workers.  

To apply from California or to hire graduates, visit  If you are not located in California but would like to learn more about this program, visit the MercyPLUS website

Transforming the Healthcare Workforce

About Futuro Health

Futuro Health improves the health and wealth of communities by growing the largest network of credentialed allied health workers in the nation starting in California. We believe investing in education and skills training and retraining results in better-paying jobs for workers, better service for patients and better workers for employers to hire. Kaiser Permanente and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) partnered to establish Futuro Health in January 2020 with a $130 million commitment. 

About Futuro Health

Transforming the Healthcare Workforce

About Mercy College PLUS

Since 1899, Mercy College of Health Sciences has been empowering students with the training, knowledge, and education necessary to become successful healthcare professionals. Mercy College PLUS continues this legacy by expanding online education designed in collaboration with industry experts. With multiple start dates per year, affordable tuition, and generous transfer credit acceptance, students can advance their healthcare careers in a manner and time that is convenient for them.

About Mercy College PLUS