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Fostering Growth Through Education: Maria Santiago and the Home Health Aide Training Institute

The nationally recognized institute offers five curricula that train aides to work in various settings and roles.

When aspiring home healthcare aides consider where to pursue their education, one of the schools at the top of their list is New York’s Home Health Aide Training Institute (HHATI).

Whether they plan to go into the field as a Personal Care Assistant, Home Health Aide (HHA), or Infection Control Specialist, the school offers among the best courses in the country. The Institute and its Director and CEO, Maria Santiago, have been praised for their comprehensive educational offerings, each delivering a dose of empathy and compassion in each lesson.

“I train my students to ensure that their patient is properly cared for in all physical and emotional aspects,” explained Santiago.

Though the school just celebrated its sixth birthday, its director was already honored by U.S. President Joe Biden with a Presidential Tribute of Excellence Award for caring in the community. When the award was presented, the president noted that Santiago performs her work with joy and should be celebrated for her excellent coursework level at her school.

In the few years that it’s been open, over 3,000 students have graduated from HHATI. Today they are working in positions at facilities or as traveling aides, spreading Santiago’s caring mission with the patients across the U.S. that need them the most.

Despite the school’s short tenure, Santiago is no newbie to the industry. The caring CEO has been working in home health for a quarter of a century and amassed everything she learned when creating the curriculum for her institute. She also knows that there is an element of philanthropy in everything she does.

“If we get a call for someone who is sick or suffering and they can’t afford care, we will try to send a volunteer to help,” she said. “We will typically offer our students the opportunity for real-world experiences and volunteerism to care for the patient, but of course, never placing them in a situation where they are not qualified to do so.”

HHATI is nationally recognized, licensed, and approved to educate by the New York State Education Department. They offer five signature curricula, including Personal Care Assistance (PCA), Home Health Aide (HHA), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Coordinator, and Infection Control training.

Personal Care Assistance

The Personal Care Assistance is 40 hours and trains students to work with rehabilitation, elderly, or disabled patients in their own homes.

During the course, students learn how to work and adapt to a variety of home environments, react to a variety of possible scenarios that could occur during their shifts, and how empathetically assist vulnerable people with all of their daily activities and health needs.

Home Health Aide (HHA)

The training to become a certified Home Health Aide is more involved and happens over 83-course hours. Students learn how to assist mobility-challenged patients with daily activities from eating to grooming and bathing to moving.

Home Health Aides usually help patients in a home environment on a temporary or long-term basis, often forming close bonds with the people they care about. It’s a position that is challenging but ultimately very rewarding.

Infection Control

Infection Control Nurses are also trained at HHATI. They work at identifying, preventing the spread of, and controlling diseases from spreading. In the last few years, this training has shifted to include many protocols related to Covid-19 and controlling and treating the highly contagious illness.

Coursework includes dressing and disrobing in personal protection equipment alongside theory and best practices for proper distance and safety.


The coordinator course is training to perform an admin role that assists in the placement and management of home health workers. The course spans 50 hours of activity in the classroom and field. It includes planning protocol, coordination standards, and best-creating schedules for home health care agencies.

Certified Nursing Assistant

The most intense course offered by the school is the 125-hour Certified Nursing Assistant program. This choice lets healthcare professionals in training learn the skills to perform both aide and nursing roles and how to act in a hospital or nursing home setting.

No matter which course you choose, Santiago and the HHATI family ensure that every graduate has the skills to succeed, and they also help to place graduates in excellent roles around the country.

About Maria Santiago

Maria Santiago is the CEO and Director of Home Health Aide Training Institute (HHATI), which trains and certifies home health aides, PCAs and CNAs. She recently won the Presidential Tribute of Excellence Award, and her team has taught over 3,000 students.

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