(BIVN) – Pahoa’s “grassroots, non-profit, walk-in medical clinic” that provides urgent care services for the Puna district announced an important new affiliation.
Puna Community Medical Center will now be affiliated with Hilo Medical Center, part of the East Hawai’i Region of Hawai’i Health Systems Corporation.
Along with the above photo (a celebratory shot showing PCMC board of directors and chair Ralph Boyea, Dr. Hart Miller, PCMC Medical Director, Dan Brinkman, East Hawaii Regional CEO of HHSC, Will Okabe, Mayor’s Executive, Senator Russell Ruderman, Representative Joy San Buenaventura, and council members Eileen O’hara and Jen Ruggles), this joint media release was issued:
At their June board meeting, the Board of Directors of the non-profit Puna Community Medical Center (PCMC) executed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing an affiliation with Hilo Medical Center. The new affiliation with Hilo Medical Center will lend healthcare expertise and financial support to the conveniently located walk-in medical clinic that provides urgent care services to Pahoa and the surrounding Puna community.
“Members of the Puna Community Medical Center board initiated internal discussions last summer exploring what could be done to stabilize and expand medical services in an otherwise underserved community. PCMC provides excellent urgent care services, yet the need for our community is larger than our present capacity,” said PCMC Board Chair Ralph Boyea. “As our dialogue and due diligence progressed over a period of about six months, it became evident that an affiliation with Hilo Medical Center could be a win-win.”
In fiscal year 2015, 31% (or 14,620) of Hilo Medical Center’s emergency department visits were patients residing in Puna. “When we dove deep into the numbers, we identified 4,671 of these emergency department patients who were from Puna and had minor health issues that could have been cared for adequately at PCMC. The East Hawaii Regional Board agreed that sustaining healthcare services in Puna is a regional priority,” said Dr. Daniel Belcher, East Hawaii Regional Board Chair. “Encouraging the flow of patients with minor health issues to nearby local providers will appeal to Puna residents and the resulting decrease in lower level ER visits will increase efficiency at Hilo Medical Center’s Emergency Room.”
“Stabilizing PCMC’s financial health and growing healthcare services and providers in Puna is vital for community wellbeing,” said Dan Brinkman, East Hawaii Regional CEO of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. “Hilo Medical Center will be working together with the Puna community, obtaining the input of community leaders and our elected officials so as to better expand and advance Puna’s healthcare services. This is a challenge that will take creativity and endurance, and it aligns with our mission of providing safety net healthcare services to East Hawaii.”
Puna Community Medical Center, which opened in 2009, is located in the Pahoa Marketplace. PCMC will retain its employees and continue to provide the community with urgent care services as changes in organizational governance occur in July.
“We are confident that the healthcare future for Puna residents is improving and our hope is that we can expand both emergency services and primary care. Our affiliation is a great opportunity to work with an established healthcare organization while still retaining our unique Puna identity” added Boyea.
PCMC opened its doors in the Pahoa Marketplace in February 2009. “Our doors have been open seven days/week ever since with the exception of the lava flow interruption that occurred in 2015,” officials say in the media release. “We had to close for several days to facilitate a move to a temporary location and 6 months later back to our permanent location.”
As of June, 2015, PCMC has had over thirty-four thousand “medical encounters”, or visits.”
“The future is looking bright,” PCMC says. “The state DNLR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) has given us a sixty-five year lease on five acres of land in Pahoa (along the Highway 130 corridor) for the construction of an expanded facility, which will include an Emergency Room. The state has allocated $750,000 for a planning grant to develop the planning for the ER. The grant is through the Senate’s Ways & Means Committee and is being channeled through state DOH (Department of Health).”