New Medical Clinic

By Jack Kiyonaga | Reporter 

With the May 15 opening of the Molokai Family and Urgent Care Clinic, Molokai residents have a much-needed, new option for medical care. Led by Dr. Kaohimanu Dang Akiona, the clinic is located in the same location as the late Dr. Noa Emmett Aluli’s Molokai Family Health Center, and is supported by Aluli’s clinical staff. 

“The focus for us has always been access to care. Not just primary care, but good care,” said Dang Akiona. 

Dang Akiona, owner of the Kohala Coast Urgent Clinic, explained that heath care shouldn’t be reliant on zip code. 

“[Molokai residents] don’t actually have what we would consider reasonable standards of care anymore,” said Akiona. “That’s not acceptable for people who are paying the same premiums and paying the same taxes as everyone else.”

Akiona’s new clinic will feature both family medicine and urgent care. This will allow the clinic to serve a wide variety of needs. 

“From birth to death, we’re comfortable,” said Akiona. 

The clinic will likewise be able to address some of Molokai’s mental health needs, offering services like antipsychotic injections, pain management and detox. 

This broad range of healthcare will allow Dang Akiona flexibility in dealing with “whatever the community has come up and needed,” she explained. 

Dang Akiona hadn’t expected her life to lead necessarily to Molokai but found herself in a position to help. 

“I won’t question why. I’ll just do what it seems like I’m supposed to do, and that’s be a doctor on Molokai apparently,” she said.  

Dang Akiona, a North Shore Oahu native, was raised by teen parents. The first person in her family to go to college to be a doctor, Dang Akiona “was basically told that med school is too hard for Hawaiians,” she said. 

After years as a research scientist, Dang Akiona attended the University of Pittsburgh for medical school. She came back to Hawaii to help start the Hilo Family Medicine Residency as well as a street medicine program on Hawaii Island. 

Dang Akiona credits people like Aluli and longtime Molokai doctor William Thomas with inspiring her to pursue a career in medicine which addressed systematic bias, or “the way in which things are not cut fairly.” 

“I exist because they existed,” she said. 

Aluli, who practiced medicine for nearly 50 years in the Kaunakakai clinic, and Thomas, who led Molokai General Hospital’s Outpatient Clinic, both passed away unexpectedly last year within several months of each other. The losses left the community with a huge void in medical care. 

Aluli’s lifelong partner, Davianna McGregor, played a pivotal role in establishing the new medical clinic. 

For McGregor, finding someone like Dang Akiona to fill this role allowed for a furthering of Aluli’s “legacy of health care with aloha to continue in Molokai and other rural areas,” explained McGregor. 

In the six months since the passing of Aluli, McGregor has worked with networks of doctors including the Native Hawaiian Physicians Association, which Aluli helped found, to figure out support for a new medical clinic on Molokai. 

Dang Akiona’s clinic “has turned out to be a pathway that we think has a lot of potential for success,” said McGregor. 

The Family and Urgent Care Clinic offers the same kind of care as Aluli’s, explained McGregor. Residents can make appointments but can also drop in if they have an unexpected need which doesn’t rise to the level of an emergency. 

Most importantly, “you can come in and get seen,” said McGregor. 

The Molokai Family and Urgent Care Clinic is currently open Monday to Wednesday, with hopes of expanding its schedule soon.


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