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Health Care Task Force Considered

At the last of four public meetings hosted by the Department of Health (DOH) last week, members of Molokai’s healthcare community said it’s time to put aside old differences and look toward the future. Now, a task force is being organized to move their efforts forward.

“We all live here, we all know one another and we’re all friends,” said Cedric Alonzo, who works at the Molokai Community Health Center (MCHC). “We need collaboration.”

The group of about 60 attendees – including workers from MCHC and the Molokai General Hospital (MGH), as well as private practitioners and other professionals – designated Beverly Pauole-Moore to coordinate the task force.

Pauole-Moore, the volunteer Molokai representative to Governor Abercrombie, was chosen largely for her neutral stance on the health care issue and her ability to facilitate negotiations.

The task force will include representatives from Molokai’s health care system – such as MCHC, MGH, private and Native Hawaiian health practitioners and dentists – as well as several community members free from ties to any of those organizations. Attendees at last week’s meeting advocated including at least one teenage representative to the board in order to get youth perspective and involvement.

DOH Primary Care Offices (PCO) Programmer Catherine Sorensen will soon send Pauole-Moore a list of people who expressed interest in joining the task force, Pauole-Moore said. Those interested in joining or learning more about the task force may email Pauole-Moore at molokairep@yahoo.com.

Meeting times and locations have yet to be decided.

The public meeting at the Mitchell Pauole Center marked the end of DOH initiating any involvement with Molokai’s immediate health care struggles, according to Sorensen and state Director of Health Loretta Fuddy, who both attended the meeting.

The DOH is willing to provide more assistance if Molokai health care providers initiate the conversation, Sorensen said. That communication would likely happen between the task force and one or more of the three DOH subdepartments involved thus far: the PCO, the State Office of Rural Health and the District Health Office on Maui.

Attendees expected the task force would work on specific projects, such as creating a health care directory or flow chart for residents to learn about their health care options, as well as “big picture” issues like limiting duplication of services among different health care providers.

Resolving the latter issue is important to make sure federal dollars are approved for as many different types of services on Molokai as possible, according to Dr. Lorrin Pang, the district health officer for Maui County, who also attended the meeting.

“The feds are asking for collaboration. Sometimes duplication is equivalent to quality … but with this health care crisis, you don’t have that luxury,” he said. “It’s not my opinion, it’s the feds’ opinion. That’s how we’re gonna have to do it until [the country gets] wealthy again.”


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