Two community health centers on the Big Island will receive additional federal funding to support efforts in mitigating disparities among Pacific Islanders affected by COVID-19.
The University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Manoa will receive $3.4 million in federal funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to support efforts to expand testing and outreach programs to Waimanalo Health Center on O‘ahu; the Bay Clinic Inc. and Hāmākua-Kohala Health Center on Hawaiʻi Island; and the Moloka‘i Community Health Center.
“We must use every public health intervention available to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our vulnerable populations, and especially to reduce the disparities we’ve seen in the Pacific Islander community,” said US Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). “By expanding access to COVID-19 testing and teaching preventative practices to students in rural areas, this grant will help us keep more Hawai‘i families safe. I’m proud that UH is leading this effort to bring additional resources to areas that need it most.”
The program is already successfully implemented at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center on O‘ahu. The additional funds will be used by UH to increase COVID-19 testing and disseminate COVID-19 educational curriculum to schools in rural and underserved communities in effort to reach Hawai‘i’s vulnerable populations, including Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.
At the same time, UH will disseminate COVID-19 educational curriculum to community schools to empower students and families to implement preventative practices, encourage testing, and help reduce infections.
“We are pleased to address an issue of such great importance to our state – and one which disproportionately impacts Hawaiʻiʻs vulnerable populations. This partnership with community health centers and scientists across our great university represents a great opportunity to proactively and uniquely contribute to the health of Hawaiʻi,” said Jerris Hedges, Dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, and Dr. Noreen Mokuau, former Dean of the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.