Maui News

15 Libraries Receiving ‘Digital Navigators’ To Help People Obtain COVID-19 Information & Services

July 26, 2021, 2:30 PM HST
* Updated July 26, 11:56 AM
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Kīhei Public Library is one of 15 libraries in Hawaiʻi that is receiving “digital navigators” to help people obtain COVID-19 information and support services through a $3.7 million federally funded project. Photo Courtesy: Hawaiʻi Public Libraries

A federally funded $3.7 million project is providing 15 libraries in underserved and rural areas of Hawai’i with health and digital navigators, and telehealth services, to help people obtain COVID-19 information and support services.

The project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address COVID-19 health disparities as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. It is operated by a partnership of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH), the Hawaiʻi State Public Library System and the Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The project will train and employ high school and undergraduate students to be health and digital navigators in their local libraries. These navigators will help individuals and families learn how to use computers and the internet to access information about COVID-19 and other health concerns, find services and support, and use telehealth services.

The libraries also will have designated private rooms and equipment to allow telehealth visits. For families that have devices but no connectivity, the library will have cellular hotspot units that can be borrowed for use at home.

The project will start by the end of 2021 and include 15 state libraries: Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Hāna, Kīhei, Waimea, Princeville, Hanapēpē, Pāhoa, North Kohala, Hilo, Waiʻanae, Kahuku, Waimānalo, Wahiawā and Waipahu.

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“This collaboration is a unique opportunity to help Hawai‘i families in underserved communities move towards health and digital equity,” said Sylvia Mann, DOH’s Genomics Section Supervisor.

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To support COVID-19 and other public health activities, mobile clinic vans will be set up in the library parking lots to allow individuals and families to receive in-person and telehealth services, rotating among the libraries on each island. Clinic vans can also be deployed to community sites or even a patient’s home when necessary to provide services. This part of the project will start in 2022 when the customized vans arrive in the state.

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