Winn, 71, co-founder of drug clinic
By Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Staff Writer
Dr. Neal Winn was never one to see a problem and not try to solve it.
While serving as a Navy physician on submarines, he struggled to help sailors and their families grappling with substance abuse. So when he finished his service, and was working on his obstetrics/gynecology residency, he decided to embark on a side project to help tackle community substance abuse issues.
That work, co-founding the then-Waikiki Drug Clinic, went on to have a major impact on the state's community health and substance abuse services.
The clinic evolved into the Waikiki Health Center (where he served as director) and into Habilitat, a residential drug treatment program. In 1971, he was named Community Physician of the Year by Hawai'i Medical Association, and in 1975 he was appointed to the state drug commission.
And those were just his side jobs.
Winn, who was also well-known for his years of obstetrics and gynecology practice, his leadership roles at Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children, and as a passionate advocate for patient safety and quality care, died Sunday at his downtown home from cancer. He was 71.
"He was really driven by trying to help people," said his son, Michael.
Winn grew up in Rhode Island and joined the Navy because he loved the ocean. He attended Holy Cross College in Massachusetts and got his medical degree from McGill University in Canada.
He spent four years in the Navy and was stationed in Hawai'i, where he decided to raise his family after completing his military service. Winn went on to run a successful OB/GYN practice at Kapi'olani for 23 years, starting in 1972, and then served as vice president for medical affairs at the hospital. From 2000 to 2005, he was chief medical officer for Kapi'olani Medical Specialists, a physician faculty group practice. Winn also co-founded Ho'okele Personal Health Planners.
Michael Winn said his father was committed to his patients and his profession.
And that meant he was very busy, often working 14- to 20-hour days.
"Despite all that," Winn said, "what time he did spend was quality time with the family."
Dr. Winn is survived by sons Christopher, of South Carolina, and Michael, of Honolulu; sister Marsha McCaffrey, of Virginia; brother James Winn, of Rhode Island; two grandchildren; and 12 nieces and nephews. Services are pending.