Categorized | Featured, Health

Puna Community Medical Center opening

(Photos by Baron Sekiya/


Mayor Billy Kenoi brought more than just aloha to the blessing of the Puna Community Medical Center in Pahoa. The mayor arrived Sunday, Jan. 11 with a check for $35,000 to help the clinic through its first month.

The fledgling non-profit community medical center was celebrating the opening of its urgent care treatment center in the Pahoa Marketplace, but the board of directors was worried about where it would get its operating funds.

Kenoi, who was born in nearby Kalapana, made no promises but he found funds in the budget set aside for health care planning that he would rather spend on projects that can help people now, especially after hearing about the clinic’s needs last week from board members.

“We determined that these funds should be used for direct programs and services and rural communities,” he said.

Most people in the communities of Lower Puna have had to travel long distances to get treatment for injuries and ailments. Now they have a local clinic to go to instead of traveling to Hilo for treatment.

The PCMC was only an idea just a few years ago when Pahoa resident Dan Domizio, a long-time physician’s assistant in the area, personally took on the task of raising money to build an urgent care clinic in the rural community. After being told he shouldn’t wait for outside help to get it started, he and friends formed a non-profit corporation to meet the challenge themselves.

With hard work and donations from many neighbors and friends, and $170,000 from the County Council, the sparkling new urgent care center was ready to open. But Domizio had put his staff on hold, telling them not to leave their current jobs until he had assurance that he could pay them. He estimated it will cost $35,000 a month to keep the clinic’s doors open.

The surprise presentation of a $35,000 check by Kenoi brought tears to Domizio’s eyes. “This door may be open now,” he said.

The PCMC board of directors wants the clinic to be the first step toward establishment of a comprehensive health center in Pahoa using the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center on Oahu as a model.

“Community-based efforts like this deserve our support,” Kenoi said.

Interim PMC President Tiffany Edwards Hunt said after she and other board members met with Kenoi to explain the critical juncture they’ve reached with the clinic, she was impressed with “how much he knows about our cause, our needs. We did not have to ask for the money.”

“I’m glad we could do it,” Kenoi said. Health care affects everyone, and although it is primarily a state function, “It behooves us to help whenever we can,” he said.

Sunday afternoon’s blessing and maile lei cutting ceremony at the Pahoa Marketplace was attended by hundreds of people, including the cast of the stage play “Rent,” a Theater Arts Conservatory production whose performances in East Hawaii this month will benefit the clinic.

Representing the County Council were Fifth District Councilwoman Emily Naeole, who was instrumental in obtaining the County funding, and Fourth District Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi.

One Response to “Puna Community Medical Center opening”

  1. damon says:

    Nice pictures. I like the look of the ones that have that circular effect to them. Makes it look real “Doctorish/Scopish/X-Rayish/Point-of-Viewish…etc.”

    I’m feeling camera jealousy coming over me… :(


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