Efforts at providing healthcare to underserved acknowledged

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Justin Kollar, president of the Kauai Rural Health Association, is joined by visitors from the Center for Disease Control, the state Department of Health, and National Association for Chronic Disease in accepting a National Rural Health proclamation from Mayor Derek Kawakami.

LIHUE — Rural Health is not just a week, but every day, said Justin Kollar, president of the Kauai Rural Health Association when he accepted a National Rural Health Week proclamation from Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami.

Organized by the Health Resources &Services Administration, National Rural Health Day, Nov. 21 — the third Thursday in November — is a way to applaud the ongoing efforts, contributions, and collaborations taking place in rural communities to address the unique challenges in accessing and delivering health care services.

“The two state hospitals — the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital and the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital — are critical life lines to people on the Westside and in Kapaa and areas north,” Kawakami said. “I know of the quality and compassionate care they provide because I have taken part in several of their programs, including the act of bringing their patients to the beach.”

Other models closer to home include the Westside ‘Ohana Day scheduled for Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center.

Wilcox Health, in partnership with Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, Kamehameha Schools, Kauai Skate Ohana, and Keiki to Career are hosting the Westside ‘Ohana Day.

This is a free event will include makahiki games, a skate park, a bike skills course, free helmets and skate pads for keiki, a food demonstration, snacks and refreshments, and a resource center with community booths.

These are only examples of improving access to healthcare resources, the Kauai Rural Health Association playing a distinct and critical role by leading efforts to help rural communities address their unique healthcare needs by providing numerous activities across the island toward contributing to improving the health of our community.

Kawakami said there needs to be a shift in attitude from reactive to proactive in dealing with some of the public health issues and accessibility such as a lack of primary, behavioral and oral healthcare providers, an aging population suffering from a greater number of chronic conditions, and larger percentages of uninsured and underinsured citizens.

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

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