As your OHA Trustee it is important to me to get out into the community and see where OHA is able to collaborate with organizations supporting our Native Hawaiian people. I recently had the pleasure of conducting a site visit at Waiʻanae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (WCCHC) to listen to concerns, tour the facilities, and hear from the hardworking staff who service West Oʻahu. Also in attendance were area legislators Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, Rep. Darius Kila and Rep. Cedric Gates.
Uncle Kamaki Kanahele gave us a warm welcome and we reminisced with President and CEO Rich Bettini and staff about how they worked together with my grandfather, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, to improve the lives of our Hawaiian people both in Washington, D.C., and here at home, as well as with my uncle Dr. Gerard Akaka, who was a physician and former medical director of WCCHC.
WCCHC is a healing center with a holistic approach, committed to providing accessible, quality, affordable, and comprehensive healthcare, while preserving Native Hawaiian culture and traditions to achieve complete wellness.
WCCHC has cared for and served our West Oʻahu community since its humble beginnings in 1972 when its one doctor and five staff delivered services from a temporary location in the heart of Waiʻanae.
Today, WCCHC is the largest Federally Qualified Health Center on Oʻahu. In 2017, it served more than 37,000 patients and over 203,500 visits through their seven service sites. They provide services such as primary care, behavioral health, nutrition, dental care, diagnostic services, and a pharmacy all within the same clinic.
We were given a tour of the future site of the Health Center’s ʻElepaio Social Services Community Food Campus. This program fills the gaps left by government agencies when it comes to food stability. Keiki heavily rely on public school breakfast and lunch which emphasizes how important it is for OHA to support and help fund these types of programs through our granting system. There is an emphasis for our Native Hawaiian people, especially keiki and kūpuna, to have access to essential services and healthy food options.
I look forward to continuing the conversation with WCCHC on how OHA can work together in addressing these needs. Mahalo nui to Uncle Kamaki Kanahele, director of the Traditional Hawaiian Healing Center, Aunty Ginger Fuata, WCCHC board bember, Rich Bettini, WCCHC president and CEO, Alicia Higa, director of Health Promotion and the WCCHC Staff for their warm-hearted welcome.