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Health Center Expansion Halted

Patients and community members anticipating the expansion of the Molokai Community Health Center (MCHC) will have to continue the wait. Construction for the clinic’s new Oceanside Health and Wellness Center at the former Pau Hana Inn site has been forced to shut down due to a lack of funding.

Renovations for the federally qualified health center began in July 2010, after $1 million in grant funding was allocated by the state legislature. However, former Governor Lingle withheld the funds. The withholding has also prevented MCHC from accessing matching funding sources, according to a company spokesperson.

To date, $4.15 million from capital improvement grants have been invested into the project. The planned expansion would allow MCHC to better serve its 3,000 and growing patients, fully integrate its broad spectrum of services, maximize its partnerships with other organizations, and create additional employment opportunities on Molokai, according to a company press release.

In order to continue services at their present location in the Kamoi Center, executive board members decided last week to cease construction on the 5.9 acre seaside property.

“[We] were hoping to have phase one finished by this week and have core services available,” said Executive Director Desiree Puhi. “The entire project will not be complete until next year.”

MCHC staff were made aware of the stop-order during their annual strategic planning meeting last Friday. Board members said the continued withholding could lead to the loss of jobs and create an economic strain for the health care provider.

The health care organization will hold a public meeting on Feb. 16 at Kulana `Oiwi from 5:30-7:30 p.m. to address concerns, questions and provide insight for further action. In the meantime, patients and interested community members are encouraged to send letters to Gov. Abercrombie requesting a release of the necessary funds.

“We don’t want to go this route but the community wants the center; they are going to react and we want to use that fuel to make change,” said Executive Team President Rosie Davis.  “I don’t understand why we have to struggle.”

Testimony can be sent via letter and mailed to The Honorable Neil Abercrombie, Governor, State of Hawaii
Executive Chambers, State Capitol, Honolulu, Hawaii  96813; calling (808) 586-0034; or online at hawaii.gov/gov/contact/contact-gov.

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