Maui Coronavirus Updates

Community Health Centers in Hawaiʻi Awarded $1.3 Million Grant for Telehealth Services

January 18, 2021, 4:57 PM HST
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A healthcare worker at Kōkua Kalihi Valley, one of 14 Federally Qualified Health Centers in Hawaiʻi to receive grant funding for telehealth. Photo Credit: Michelle Mishina

The Freeman Foundation and Hawaiʻi Community Foundation awarded $1.3 million in grants to 14 Federally Qualified Health Centers across the state, according to a news release.

With guidance from Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association, the grants aim to increase access to and delivery of telehealth services at a time when such services are in greater demand, due in part to stay-at-home orders and limited in-person appointments.   

“Throughout our work in the United States and Asia, we’ve seen how basic technology can facilitate connections and improve daily lives,” said Graeme Freeman, president of The Freeman Foundation. “More rapid adoption of telehealth in Hawai‘i means helping health providers for rural and underserved communities, as well as families who need better resources to see their doctors virtually.”

With an approach to health care based on locally tailored services, Community Health Centers on Maui, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi will receive the grants for telehealth infrastructure improvements and patient programs. This includes:

  • Internet connectivity upgrades
  • Telehealth software
  • Specialized equipment for telehealth visits such as kiosks, digital thermometers, blood pressure monitors and scales
  • Telehealth education for medical and behavioral health providers
  • Educational material for patients
  • Smartphones, tablets and webcams for both providers and patients

The grants are made possible by a donation from The Freeman Foundation and administered by Hawaiʻi Community Foundation. Hawaiʻi Medical Services Association (HMSA) is a collaborator and partner in identifying the need for improved telehealth capacity.

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Federally Qualified Health Centers in Hawaiʻi served more than 160,000 patients in 2019, with more than 60% covered by Medicaid or had no health insurance, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.

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A recent University of Hawaiʻi survey shows that Federally Qualified Health Centers, public and private hospitals, independent health care providers and rural health clinics want to provide more telehealth services. But they are limited by capacity and other issues, including internet connectivity, lack of funding for equipment and devices, limited staff training and workflow challenges. Fifty-eight percent of respondents did not start providing telehealth services until the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know with the COVID-19 pandemic, building more resilient communities starts with public health,” said Chris van Bergeijk, senior vice president and chief impact officer of Hawaiʻi Community Foundation. “Hawaiʻi’s Community Health Centers play an integral role in the health of our communities, especially with our most vulnerable populations. We are grateful for the support of The Freeman Foundation, which will allow CHCs to quickly and efficiently expand telehealth services to serve those who need it most.” 

The Federally Qualified Health Centers receiving grant awards:

  • Bay Clinic
  • Hāna Health
  • Hoʻola Lahui Hawai‘i
  • Kalihi Pālama Health Center
  • Kōkua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services
  • Koʻolauloa Health Center
  • Lānaʻi Community Health Center
  • Molokaʻi Community Health Center
  • Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center
  • Wahiawā Community Health Center
  • Waiʻanae Coast Comprehensive Health Center
  • Waikīkī Health
  • Waimānalo Health Center
  • West Hawaiʻi Community Health Center
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