Treatment without a cost

LIHUE — Cherlyn Caneda, a nurse practitioner at Shriners Hospitals for Children on Oahu, couldn’t help but be just a little cheerful on Thursday, despite a morning filled with scrutinizing youngsters at the Kauai Medical Center. 

“Happy Santa Day,” she exclaimed to Dr. Craig Ono, chief of staff at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Honolulu.

Ono and Caneda, along with a staff team, are on Kauai for their twice-a-year visit to the island, which will wrap up at 4 p.m. today. 

“We come to Kauai twice a year, each visit being at least two days,” said Sandy Zukeran, the outreach clinic coordinator. “A lot of the appointments have already been scheduled through the Honolulu hospital, but we do have some patients who walk in.”

The clinic opened Thursday.

“We’ve had a lot of people come through,” said Vernette Godbehere of the Kauai Shriners Lodge. “Just this morning, we had 42 people come through, and there is another 45 people scheduled for Friday. We had several who didn’t have appointments, but I think everyone was handled.”

Children up to 18 years old are eligible for care at Shriners Hospital for Children, if a physician determines that a child can benefit from care at the hospital, which accepts insured and uninsured patients.

And all the visits come at no cost to the people receiving treatment.

“We’ve had two patients’ families who couldn’t get over the free part,” said Dick Godbehere. “They donated to the club. One even left us a Christmas present.”

One of those patients was 3-year-old Finnley Smith, of Kapaa, who was accompanied by his mother, Neisha, on Thursday.

“We first saw Finnley when he was 8 months old,” Ono said. “He’s now 3 years old, and we’ll be here for him until he’s grown up at 18 years old. As long as he’s here, we’ll be here for him.”

John Gill, another Kauai Shriners Lodge member, said there are 22 Shriners Hospitals spread across the nation, and some in other countries. 

He said most of the hospitals specialize in an specific medical area. The hospital in Texas, for example, specializes in burns, while the one in Hawaii specializes in orthopaedics, neuromusculoskeletal, and neurodevelopmental conditions.

The Shriners Hospitals for Children’s next Kauai trip is scheduled for June.

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