LIHUE — Kaiser Permanente is planning to open a clinic on Kauai early next year, with the goal of providing subscribers with greater access to doctors and reducing patient wait times.
The clinic – Kaiser Permanente’s first on the island – will be located on the ground floor of the Kukui Grove Health Center in Lihue. The facility is slated to open in January 2016.
Kaiser Permanent Hawaii President Mary Ann Barnes, RN, said that the decision to open the clinic was made in response to requests from employers who wanted more and better access for their employees.
“Our customers encouraged us to open a Kauai facility,” Barnes said, and “we felt it was really the right time.”
Demand has been growing. The number of Kaiser Permanente subscribers on the island has risen by about 1,000 over the past five years, to more than 2,400 patients.
The new facility will include two primary care providers, a lab, and pharmacy services. In addition, the clinic will have tele-health capabilities, giving patients on Kauai the ability to talk to specialists on Oahu or other areas of the country, without having to leave the island.
For example, with the clinic’s new tele-dermatology capabilities, a patient with a suspicious mole could come to the facility, take a picture, and have it reviewed by a dermatologist on Oahu.
“In the islands, the sun is brutal, and we find a lot more skin cancer and lesions here,” Barnes said.
Kaiser Permanente already offers tele-health services to Maui and Hawaii Island.
Dr. Geoff Sewell, president and executive medical director of the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, stressed that current members who already receive treatment from doctors who operate on contract with Kaiser Permanente will not need to switch their primary care doctor when the new clinic opens.
“We’re not asking them to change,” Sewell said. “We don’t want to disrupt their relationship (with their current doctor).”
Having the facility on-island is all about providing better patient care that is focused on prevention and quality, Sewell said.