Aloha from the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (WCCHC) in Waianae, HI! WCCHC was formed almost 40 years ago when a local sugar cane company closed and health care in the area dropped to almost zero. We have been an NHSC-approved site for almost 10 years now and have almost 15 NHSC members who, along with our other providers, serve over 27,000 patients each year. WCCHC provides a wide range of services including primary care, pediatrics, dental, and behavioral health. We also have specialty services including orthopedic surgery, podiatry, pain management, dermatology, and more. WCCHC is also one of the only Federally Qualified Health Centers in the country with a 24-hour Emergency Room.
Along with WCCHC’s main campus, we have four satellite clinics where our patients receive care. At WCCHC we see a high population of poor and underserved; almost two-thirds of our patients live below the poverty line. Our mission is to make comprehensive health services available to all residents of our community, even if they’re unable to pay.
One feature of our clinic that I’m very proud of is our Native Hawaiian Traditional Healing Center. We found that some of our Native Hawaiian patients are occasionally unsure of Western medicine’s effectiveness. Because of that, we created the Healing Center which promotes traditional Native Hawaiian healing while incorporating cultural education, practices, and traditions. Native healers work in tandem with our other health care providers to provide customized health care plans to patients. It’s impressive to see the effectiveness of this method, and our patients are grateful that our clinic has not lost its traditions. I am also very proud of our Malama Ola Wellness Center for Integrative Medicine. We use a patient-centered medical home model to fully address our patients’ needs by using a multidisciplinary team of clinicians including physicians, psychologists, dietitians, fitness trainers and health educators.
WCCHC is also part of an exciting new medical initiative – our own medical school. One of our biggest challenges at WCCHC is provider retention. About five years ago we had lost a lot of clinicians, and we were finding that a lot of the medical students coming out of the University of Hawaii weren’t coming to work in rural or underserved areas. So we partnered with A.T. Still University in Arizona, and opened a new osteopathic medical school campus in Waianae! Our idea was to have the students train in the community, and so we created a curriculum that really focused on family medicine. We had our first graduating class this year, and I’m proud to say 84 percent of our students went into primary care with many who stayed locally!
We are very thankful for the recruitment benefits the National Health Service Corps brings to WCCHC. We are always excited to welcome NHSC members because we know they’ll be highly qualified clinicians who really care about making a difference in the community.