Medical mission to Samoa the aloha spirit

Yes, it’s good to take care of your own, which Kauai does very well.

But it’s also good to take care of those elsewhere who need you.

Hawaii’s aloha spirit is proudly on display for the world as Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green and a team of medical professionals are currently in Apia, Samoa, on a medical mission to provide vaccinations and render medical aid to the residents of the island nation who have been affected by a measles outbreak.

So far nearly 4,000 people have been sickened and about 60 people have died, mostly children under the age of 4, as a result of the highly contagious and infectious disease.

Over the last few days, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office has been working with government leaders in Samoa, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as government, community and business leaders in Hawaii to coordinate the response.

“We reached out to the WHO and CDC, who came back with a direct request, which was to deploy a medical mission within 24 hours. We immediately put out the call to our healthcare community in the state of Hawaii and were overwhelmed with the response and generosity of people who wanted to step up,” said Green.

Within 24 hours of announcing the medical mission, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office received more than 500 phone calls and emails from groups and individuals wanting to offer their assistance.

That kind of response is not surprising in Hawaii, but it’s still inspiring.

As part of the effort, The Queen’s Medical Center, Hawaii’s largest private hospital and only Level I trauma center in the state, dispatched 50 nurses and 11 doctors, including its Chief of Pediatrics, Dr. Nadine Tenn Salle, to Western Samoa, a press release said. Queen’s has also donated medical equipment and supplies to aid in the effort.

“This is a tragedy that is happening in Samoa, but it is completely preventable. Their crisis is occurring in the hospital. Their intensive-care unit is beyond overflowing,” said Salle.

Hawaii Pacific Health, a conglomerate of hospitals including Wilcox Medical Center, also provided 15 medical personnel to join Green’s medical mission, as did the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, which reached into its network to provide manpower and supplies for the mission.

Hawaiian Airlines provided one of its A330 aircraft that flew the medical team and equipment and supplies into Faleolo International Airport. Par Hawaii also donated fuel for the aircraft’s roundtrip flight. Fiji Airways donated all of the seats needed to return the medical team back to Hawaii today.

Green was also assisted by former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, who has strong community and family ties in Samoa. Hannemann helped to put Green in touch with local leaders, making it easier for Hawaii to get all the clearances it needed to get involved in the urgent need of assistance.

“When there is a crisis, it’s simple; we go — and that’s what these doctors and nurses have done,” Green said. “We are all connected here in the Pacific, and the Samoan people are our ohana.”

The medical team was expected to stay in Samoa for 48 hours before returning home today.

We thank them, and all involved, who rose up to help those in need.

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