Community health center
planned for Kailua-Kona

The Hawaii Primary Care Association has received a $99,000 grant to improve community health centers and is planning a new center on the Big Island.

Beth Giesting, executive director of the association, said funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is to provide training, technical assistance and mentoring for the community health centers.

The association has 11 statewide centers serving uninsured and underserved families and a 12th one -- the West Hawaii Community Health Center -- is expected to open this fall in Kailua-Kona, Giesting said.

A nonprofit organization was formed to establish the center and it's recruiting an executive director, she said.

"The Big Island is so big that a significant underserved population there is kind of invisible," Giesting said.

She said the federal grant will be used to develop local people with technical expertise who can train others in technical improvements in patient care and business operations.

It's expensive to get technical assistance in Hawaii, she said, and "we don't have a lot of good technical assistance that is really pertinent to community health centers."

Much of the technical expertise lies within staff at the community health centers and it can be tapped to help other centers, she said.

The federal grant is for 10 months but the association hopes it will continue, Giesting said.


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