Tuesday, January 11, 2000

HMSA Foundation to donate
$1.2 million for children’s
health care

By Helen Altonn


Grants of $50,000 to $150,000 per year for three years are being offered to nonprofit groups for innovative projects to improve the health of Hawaii's children.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association Foundation expects to give away a total of about $1.2 million for projects concerning children's health, said executive administrator Maia Rogers. The deadline for proposals is March 1.

She said emphasis is on quality of care. "Are children receiving good quality health care? Is there anything we can do to improve their health status?" Rogers said.

Five areas were targeted for funding after reviewing what was happening nationally and locally in children's health, she said. They include:

Bullet Efforts to assure appropriate care.

Bullet Evaluation and assessment of prevention programs.

Bullet Focused efforts on chronic disease in children, such as asthma.

Bullet New ways to use technology for health improvement.

Bullet Developing better data to influence public policy on child health.

Cliff Cisco, HMSA senior vice president, said the foundation's Child Health Initiative is aimed at learning how health resources can best be used to improve child health statewide. "From this understanding, better policy in this area can be developed to guide both public and private sector investments," he said.

Rogers said she is working with several organizations that have good ideas in the areas of obesity, prenatal care and data issues. "I know we'll have at least three broad proposals including a number of different organizations," she said.

One of the most challenging areas for providers, health insurers and community organizations is management of chronic disease in children, the HMSA officials said.

For example, Cisco noted that asthma is a significant problem in Hawaii that affects many children. "How do you best manage a young child with asthma? What are the best ways for families to manage it so there are fewer hospital visits and the children can go out and play sports and do things other kids do?" Cisco said.

He said HMSA in previous years provided corporate funding to work with other agencies on problems related to asthma but the efforts are scattered.

It's hoped someone can do research and bring all the information together for a proposal on the best approach to the issue, he said.

The foundation's book, Health Trends in Hawaii, had a special section that helped identify areas in which children of Hawaii aren't doing well, Rogers said. "Overall, children in Hawaii compared to national figures appear to do quite well," she said. "But in areas like uninsured, asthma and immunization rates, they were not doing so good."

Cisco said HMSA is looking into the immunization area with the state Department of Health, its immunization staff and advocates, and the DOH may apply for a funding grant.

Any nonprofit organization, including public schools, may submit proposals, Rogers said, adding that the foundation is interested in school-based projects.

It also favors collaborative efforts, she said. "We believe a public-private partnership can make some progress on some tough issues," she said.

For more information, call the foundation at 948-5585.

E-mail to City Desk

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