Thursday, February 29, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Healthcare Crisis on the Island of Molokaʻi
By Keli'i Akina PhD @ 8:00 PM :: 2430 Views :: Maui County, Health Care

Healthcare Crisis on the Island of Molokaʻi

by OHA Trustee Keli‘i Akina, PhD,  Ka Wai Ola, August 1, 2023

Imagine an island with no doctors permanently living there, where patients must travel by air to access specialized medical care.

Such a place is not a figment of the imagination, but rather the stark reality faced by the people living on the island of Molokaʻi. With the highest concentration of Native Hawaiians per capita, Molokaʻi continues to grapple with an acute healthcare crisis. Compounding this dire situation, two of the island’s cherished physicians died last year resulting in a 50% reduction in available healthcare services. One of those doctors provided care to about 1,700 residents. Currently, only a handful of doctors make periodic visits to the island to provide medical care.

On July 11, 2023, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) hosted a community meeting on the island of Molokaʻi. Before and after that meeting, I had the privilege of engaging with OHA beneficiaries. They candidly expressed their firsthand experiences dealing with the healthcare crisis affecting their island.

Photo: Trustee Akina (center) visits with Molokaʻi residents

Trustee Akina (center) visits with Molokaʻi residents to talk story about health care. – Courtesy Photo

Ruth Tanielu said that “every two-three days, a couple of doctors fly in to work at Molokaʻi General Hospital and then they fly out as another group of doctors arrive.” Ruth also shared that a German doctor has been rendering medical assistance to help meet the healthcare demand. She lamented the fact that she must still “travel from Molokaʻi to Maui or Oʻahu to receive specialized medical care from a cardiologist because Molokaʻi does not have the necessary equipment.”

Adding to her ordeal, Ruth often finds herself missing critical appointments due to the unpredictable flight schedules of Mokulele, the sole airline serving Molokaʻi.

In emergency situations where surgical intervention is needed, patients are transported to Kaunakakai Regional Park on Molokaʻi, where they wait to be airlifted by helicopter to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oʻahu.

Debbie Benjamin, another Molokaʻi resident and OHA beneficiary, highlighted the presence of a “mental health crisis” on the island. She noted the absence of psychiatrists at Molokaʻi Community Health Center where only one psychologist is available.

Other beneficiaries echoed similar sentiments, revealing the lack of long-term care facilities for kūpuna. Consequently, many are compelled to leave Molokaʻi to access long-term care services on neighboring islands. These beneficiaries stressed the fundamental right of kūpuna to “die with dignity on their home island.”

Numerous Molokaʻi beneficiaries offered potential solutions to address the healthcare crisis.

Kupuna Judy Caparida, for instance, advocated for high school counselors to guide students toward careers in healthcare. Another possible solution involves offering increased financial incentives to physicians who choose to practice in rural areas. Similarly, medical education could be subsidized for future doctors and other healthcare professionals who commit themselves to work for a period of time in places with the greatest need. The State of Hawaiʻi could also play a crucial role by reducing regulatory obstacles and making it easier for private long-term care companies to establish facilities on the island.

Whatever the solutions may be, the bottom line is that time is running out for thousands of residents on Moloka’i, especially our kūpuna.

E hana kākou – let’s work together now to solve the medical crisis on Molokaʻi!

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Moms for Liberty

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT