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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Wai'anae health center starts fund drive

By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau

WAI'ANAE — As the population of the Wai'anae Coast has grown to more than 42,000, health-care needs have risen. To help meet those needs, the Wai'anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center will begin a capital campaign drive tomorrow to raise $3 million for a new, two-story medical building on its Farrington Highway grounds.

 •  For more information on the fund-drive for a new building, call 696-1457.
"Looking at how many patients we have — we are seeing 22,000 (a year) — and the clinics are really crowded," said the center's associate director, Joyce O'Brien. "Patients have to wait a long time because there are only so many rooms that a doctor can see a patient in. Every year, with the community growing, we add more patients."

Plans are to build a 10,000-square-foot multi-purpose building to provide 27 treatment rooms and house primary care services, with one floor dedicated to women and family health.

Opened in 1972, the Wai'anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center has cared for coast families with "dignity and cultural sensitivity," O'Brien said. The health center works with an annual budget of $17 million, with about 70 percent of that, or about $12 million, coming from patient fees. The remainder is from grants and government financing.

O'Brien said the center will seek donations from private sources as well as government grants and hopes to have the new building up in two years.

"The convenience of having a doctor in your community so you don't have to go to town is critical because transportation is such a barrier," she said. "Not only do we have primary-care providers, but we have case-management services, mental health and substance abuse services. We have tried to become a one-stop facility."

Dean Garrett, coordinator of Leeward Community College's Wai'anae branch, said the health center has become an integral part of the community.

"I remember a time when we didn't have an (emergency room) out here," Garrett said. "They are committed to education, are responsive to the special needs we have out here and are mindful of who they are serving."