Joining Hands and Hearts

Elderly care association blesses new office.

By Catherine Cluett

We all respect and revere our kupuna, but when age and time take over, who is there to care for them? We are! The Molokai Community Rural Health Association (MCRHA) celebrated the opening of its new office last week, a space that will be used primarily as a training place for long-term care-takers in the community.

“The focus of this effort is to develop the workforce needed to provide long term care services for our kupuna and others in need of these services,” said Judy Mikami, Hawaii State Rural Health Association President.

The new office, located in the Moore Center in Kaunakakai, will also serve as a business and meeting center for the organization. Kahu Anna Lou Arakaki offered a blessing of the office with friends and supporters gathered outside. Nanette Lehua Napoleon Grambusch, President of the MCRHA, untied the maile lei across the door and everyone filed inside to enjoy the newly-official office.

“The value of a society is judged by how they treat their vulnerable – the old and the young,” said Paul Moore at the ceremony. Moore is President of the National Rural Health Association and visited Molokai from Oklahoma. He said the Association has grown from 1,500 members to 18,000 members in the past four years. He praised Molokai’s contribution to raising the national awareness of rural issues and addressing local health concerns. “Amazing steps are being taken here today,” he said.

MCRHA is an association operating under the umbrella health organization Na Pu`uwai, founded as a not-for-profit organization in 1991. Na Pu`uwai serves Lanai, Molokai, and Kalaupapa, says Na Pu`uwai Executive Director Billy Akutagawa.

A community need for long-term care has arisen since the Molokai General Hospital stopped admitting long-term patients several years ago. Only two patients of this category remain today at the hospital. MCRHA offers caregiver training workshops to anyone interested in better understanding working with the elderly, says Akutagawa, whether it be family members or medical specialists. The day-long workshops are led by Dr. Michael Cheang of the University of Hawaii, who runs similar training programs around the state. The sessions are run in pairs, $20 for two, says Akutagawa, but participants are not limited to take both.

“I’m so happy to be part of this effort to support seniors who want to stay home,” says Grambusch.

For more information about the Molokai Community Rural Health Association or their workshops, call 560-3653.


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