Categorized | Featured, Health

Mobile medical van brings healthcare to rural areas

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Video by David Corrigan | Voice of Stephanie Salazar Big Island Video News

Representative Bob Herkes, the legislature, Kona Community Hospital and HMSA spearheaded the mobile van with the legislation and sponsorship for funding and staffing. The van will initially be working in Pahala at the public school.

The new mobile medical van, Kaa Hoola, was recently blessed by Kahu Danny Akaka, Jr. with more than 80 guests at the ceremony.

With the leadership of Rep. Robert Herkes, Kona Community Hospital and Hawaii Medical Service Association are working together to administer its theme “Growing Rural Healthcare.” Its name translates to a vehicle of revitalization and well-being and exists to serve the medical needs of the southernmost region of the Big Island.

The van is a direct result of more than 10 years of work by Herkes. It was his vision that much-needed healthcare services be made available in the area he represents, which is District Five; the most remote area of the Big Island.

Herkes introduced a bill that appropriated $350,000 from the Legislature to cover the expense of the production of the van. HMSA has allocated funds for the management and services offered by the van to cover a two-year period.

KCH has agreed to utilize their medical expertise and staff to coordinate service activities that would be rolled out in three phases.

The first phase of this project is to improve capacity for medical services to the underserved school-aged children in Ka‘u. These services will initially begin at Pahala Elementary. Service activities will center on screening, testing and prevention education. Immunizations and school physicals will also be offered.

The goal will be to drastically increase the number of services provided within the first six month period. In addition, keiki who need special medical care can be monitored through online tele-health, which provides immediate access to specialists.

Secondly, the van will extend opportunities to the families of these children and other community residents. The goal will be to increase preventative care within a year.

By offering medical services along with an education component, they believe their collaborative efforts will improve participation.

Lastly, the van will offer disaster relief services in remote areas and act as surge back-up or on-site emergency unit for KCH’s Emergency Department. It plans to offer the van as an on-site medical unit for sporting events.

It will also provide education at community events through free screenings and as a resource connection.

The next steps will be a website that will fully explain the range of services, as well as dates and times that each level of service will occur and its location. Each collaborative effort will have a link to that additional service provider.

Over time, they envision the Kaa Hoola website will become a one-stop clearing house for links to all resources and providers in these areas.

They will also need the help of doctors in the community that would like to volunteer their time.

For further information, contact Debra A. Barra, van program manager, at 322-4440.

From left to right: Dr. Kenneth Fink (Dept. of Human Services Med-Quest Administrator, Jay Kreuzer (CEO of Kona Community Hospital), Karen Teshima (Executive Assistant to Mayor Kenoi), House Health Committee Chair Ryan Yamane, Bruce Anderson (President/CEO of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation), Jennifer Deisman (HMSA VP of Government Relations), Representative Robert Herkes, Debra Barra (Van Manager), Kahu Danny Akaka Jr., Wayne Tanaka (Field Representative of Senator Inouye), Anna Akaka, Representative Denny Coffman, John Buckstead (West Hawaii Governor Liaison), Creighton Liu (HMSA Health Care Strategy & Analysis Manager), and Mark Oto (HMSA Government Relations Director) (Photo courtesy of Kona Community Hospital)

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