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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 1, 2010

Medical van may serve Ka'u, South Kona residents

Advertiser Staff

A mobile medical van may be serving Ka'u and South Kona residents within months, following 10 years of effort by state Rep. Bob Herkes, The Hawaii Tribune Herald reported.

Herkes, D-5th (Ka'u, South Kona), said that $350,000 to purchase the van has been secured, and the Hawaii Medical Service Association Foundation has agreed to pay for its operation for the next two years.

The van will provide basic medical services to rural areas, inoculations to schools and could be dispatched to major emergencies, such as an overturned school bus, Herkes said.

The van will be managed by Kona Community Hospital. It will include an advanced-practice registered nurse and emergency medical services technicians, and will be linked by video conference to the hospital for help with diagnoses and treatment.

Herkes, speaking during the recording of a television special to outline his legislative priorities at the Na Leo O Hawai'i studio, also predicted improvements in the state's safety net hospitals run by the Hawai'i Health Systems Corp.

A recent report criticizing HHSC follows years of turbulent finances that have had hospitals seeking state bailouts to pay their bills and ensure services to patients. Five of the system's 14 medical facilities are on the Big Island.

Herkes said recent changes to the HHSC structure, followed by the replacement of both the president and the chief operating officer, should solve most of the problems. But the system will probably continue to need infusions of state money, he said.