New $15 Million Grant Aims to Address Root Causes of Hawaii’s Health Disparities

The Island of Hawaii Community Health Center will use the funds to increase access to care for children.

Several Hawaii clinics will receive $15 million in private funding to improve outcomes for underserved populations and address the root causes of health disparities.

The San Francisco-based Stupski Foundation recently invested in Hana Health, Island of Hawaii Community Health Center, Kalihi Palama Health Center, Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services, Lanai Community Health Center, Marama I *Ke Ora announces funding for Waimanalo Health Center.

According to the foundation, these health centers serve nearly 30,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. They focus on addressing health disparities among those affected by poverty and racism. (The Foundation provides unlimited funding to Civil Beat.)

Kuakini Family Health in Kailua-Kona is one of several clinics that are part of the Big Island Community Health Center. (Courtesy: Island of Hawaii Community Health Center)

Hawaii often ranks highly nationally for the health of its residents, but this varies widely by neighborhood, racial and ethnic background, income, and other demographics.

The Island of Hawaii Community Health Center said it is prioritizing improving the medical and behavioral health of children, particularly those at risk.

Earlier this year, the organization opened health centers in three Title 1 public schools on the West Big Island of Hawaii, and plans to open two more, one in Kona and one in Hilo. Title 1 schools are schools where the majority of students come from poor families.

The center’s chief operating officer, Victoria Haynes, said many Big Island families struggle to get their children to see doctors because of distance and time constraints. High gas prices can also be a barrier.

Victoria Haynes is a board-certified clinical psychologist and Chief Operating Officer of The Island of Hawaii Community Health Center. (Courtesy: Island of Hawaii Community Health Center)

“Some parents have multiple jobs. They have to take time off from work to take their children to health centers. , we found that model of care really fit our mission,” Haynes said in an interview.

School-based health centers were opened this year at Honaunau Primary School and Kealakehe Primary and Secondary School. Haynes said the location of the new center has yet to be determined.

The center offers screenings for healthy children, immunizations, sports health screenings, acute and chronic home visits, behavioral medicine, and dental services. They are staffed by a medical team that includes a primary care provider who can put you in touch with a psychologist and a pediatric dental team.

School health centers should help bridge the gaps in access to care, especially for children in need of mental health services due to severe shortages of health care providers.

Mary Oneha, chief executive of Waimanalo Health Center on Oahu, said the grant will help her clinic “perpetuate Native Hawaiian healing.”

“This partnership will help improve food security and help expand access to oral health care through the opening of a new dental clinic in Kaneohe and an expanded dental clinic in Waimanalo,” Oneha said in a news release. .

The foundation’s Hawaii Health Program Director said the four-year unlimited funding should enable recipients to drive improved patient health equity and improved social outcomes well beyond the grant cycle. .

Keaau Family Health and Dental is part of the Big Island Community Health Center. (Courtesy: Island of Hawaii Community Health Center)

Program director Surma Gandhi said the funding was flexible and based on community needs rather than a remotely directed, top-down approach.

He said the funders are trying to answer an important question: “Instead of giving up both control and power, trusting our partners, and thinking we should be who we are as funders, “How can we achieve impact and service by addressing equity in ways that they know best?” end? “

Health centers know better than anyone what will have the biggest impact, according to foundation spokesman Matthew Nagato.

This could mean expanding community gardens, dental services, or something else.

“Our intention is to be free to do what they know is best, based on the voice of the community and not our voice as funders,” Nagato said.

Dr. David Delauf, chief executive of Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services, said the grant was based on “listening, mutual respect and trust.”

Civil Beat’s Community Health Coverage is supported by the Atherton Family Foundation, the Swain Family Fund of Hawaii Community Foundation, the Cook Foundation, and Papa Ola Lokahi.

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