$1.6M for Health Center Dental Expansion
By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor
Molokai Community Health Center’s dental services will be expanding after receiving $1,664,000 in Community Project Funding as part of a recently passed $1.7 trillion federal spending bill.
The funds will be used to renovate MCHC’s dental clinic to add three new dental operatories, flexible dental/hygiene/office spaces for increased staff and senior dental hygiene students, an enlarged patient waiting area, state of the art dental equipment and a multi-tiered air sanitization system, according to MCHC. The new clinic space will double patient access to dental services and accommodate three full-time dental/hygiene providers to address the overwhelming increase in demand for oral hygiene and dentistry services island wide, the center stated.
“We are grateful to Congressman Kahele for supporting our efforts to expand advanced dental care for the people of Molokai,” said Helen Kekalia, CEO of MCHC. “With consistent year-to-year growth of new patients, these dollars are critical to increasing the size of our current dental clinic and practice that will allow us to provide for the growing needs of residents regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Long-term, this expanded space will support our efforts to diversify our oral health workforce and create a pipeline of providers to offer place-based care for our community.”
Kahele said he visited the site last March and met with staff.
“I am delighted that the Molokai Community Health Center was selected as a recipient for Fiscal Year 2023 Community Project Funding in the amount of $1,664,000,” said Kahele, who just ended his term as U.S. Congressman following a run for governor in the 2022 election. “The comprehensive health care services that the Molokai Community Health Center provides are critical to the community and to the residents of Molokai that it serves. This federal funding will support the vision that Helen and her team have for the expansion of services and facilities at the center, and aligns with our office’s goal of supporting rural community health centers throughout Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. I look forward to their continued growth and I am grateful for all they do for our Molokai families.”
According to MCHC, dental health in Hawaii has become a critical public health issue, particularly among the Native Hawaiian population and residents in rural and neighbor island communities.
“Research shows that untreated dental problems can often lead to major illnesses and even death,” stated the center in a press release. “Access is key for Molokai families to receive proper dental care and oral hygiene to contribute to good health and overall wellbeing.”
MCHC is the only federally qualified health center on Molokai that offers medical, dental, behavioral health care, and social services to Molokai residents regardless of their ability to pay.