Time for change

NUKOLII — Five community leaders were recently designated to guide groups charged with improving healthcare on Kauai.

“This is truly a pivotal moment for our island,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said at the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort. “A moment where we will take the matter of health into our own hands and embrace it, fully, making the important changes we need to make so all of us will live in good health for many, many years to come.”

More than 100 people attended the gathering for a look at “Kauai’s Community Health Needs Assessment,” which the mayor called a bold step toward bettering the health of “each and every person on this island.”

Under the provisions of Obamacare, Carvalho said each community in the Hawaiian Islands is mandated to conduct such an assessment.

“But, like in most things, we on Kauai are setting the standard for how it should be done,” Carvalho said.

Dr. Dileep Bal of the state’s Department of Health co-chaired the effort that began in January, involved public and private organizations, and produced a 135-page report.

The assessment, according to the report, parallels the Hawaiian concept of a self-contained sustainable community to illustrate the root causes of diseases upstream leading to the disease burdens downstream.

It starts with public health, education, economics and other health-associated policies at the national, state and county levels, the report read.

These policies lead to effects at the neighborhood, family and individual levels — primarily access to health care, safe or unsafe living conditions, and health risk factors, such as smoking alcohol, obesity and other behaviors.

Final consequences include chronic disease and premature mortality, especially among the high-risk, poorer and less-educated population.

The assessment says there must be lifestyle changes.

“On Kauai, we do not want our next generation to have a shorter life span than their parents, as it will inevitably occur unless we do something now,” Dr. Bal wrote.

The five named to lead the health project were:

• Kathy Clark of the G.N. Wilcox Memorial Hospital will lead the group on medical care.

• Dr. Bal leads the health and wellness group.

• Willam Arakaki and Helen Cox will head the education and lifelong learning group.

• Kamuela Cobb-Adams will lead the housing group.

• Mike Dahilig will lead the community design and planning group.

Clark said the leaders will embark on planning and discussions among their groups. A report is expected to be made toward the end of 2014.

“What makes me most excited about this draft is that it aligns so closely with our Holo Holo 2020 vision,” Carvalho said. “It is the product of how we have lived our lives up to this point. Healthy lifestyles lead to healthy lives. That’s what much of Holo Holo 2020 is about. It is about improving the lives of the people of Kauai so that we can live sustainably for generations to come.”

Info: Visit www.health.hawaii.gov/kauai/ or www.hawaiipacifichealth.org/healthassessment/ for more information.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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