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Services for Kupuna During COVID-19

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Kupuna are among those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Older adults have shown to be among those most at risk from the virus, and with many regular services discontinued, many kupuna are fearful to leave their homes for essentials.

“I think a crisis of this magnitude does impact the psyche and I aloha the kupuna who worry about their health and are anxious about the uncertainties of it all,” said Kaui Kapuni Manera, Alu Like kupuna program manager, which offers services to elders. “What I can share is what our kupuna have taught us all our lives: plant food, eat the food off of the land and sea, malama our ‘aina, malama our neighbors and ohana and share food if can…. Listen to the simple advice we all have been hearing for weeks: Wash our hands; if sick, stay home; keep safe distance apart; and no hang around with people who cough on you.”

Grocery stores island-wide have announced special shopping hours for kupuna and those with preexisting medical conditions. Misaki’s and Friendly Market will be open to kupuna Tuesdays and Fridays 8 to 9 a.m., Mana’e Goods and Grindz announced Sundays 8 to 9 a.m. and Wednesdays 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. and Kualapu’u Market will be open to kupuna Tuesdays and Fridays 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Most stores state they may require an ID, and a doctor’s note for entrance during these hours with a preexisting medical condition.

Alu Like normally offers activities for kupuna like art classes, ukulele lessons, intergenerational activities and other programs, which have all been postponed until further notice, said Manera. Additionally, Ke Ola Pono No Na Kupuna have closed all congregate meal sites on Molokai. But the organization is still offering home delivered meals.

“Staff and I are presently delivering meals to kupuna participants who were identified as in need because of chronic conditions, dementia, being caregivers and living alone,” she said. “Most of our kupuna luckily have ohana to malama them [for] shopping, transportation, food, going doctor etc.They are connected somehow to ohana, church, neighbors, etc.”

Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. (MEO) Chief Executive Officer Debbie Cabebe confirmed MEO will continue transportation bus services for medical needs, necessary shopping for food and medicine and those needing rides to work.

“We offer rental assistance to kupuna and others who are experiencing rent challenges due to a layoff or reduction of hours related to COVIC-19,” said Cabebe. “We continue to offer surplus food for kupuna and will provide door to door delivery. Our case managers and program specialists are contacting all MEO clients to check on them and determine if they need help, and if so, what we can do for them.”

Members of the Police Dept. posted to social media that the Molokai District will be collecting toilet paper, hand sanitizers, masks and other essentials for Molokai kupuna. Donations may be placed in the box outside the Molokai Police Station Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

“Help our kupuna and those needing assistance but also keep in mind that these groups are also the most susceptible to infection,” advised Police Captain Gregg Okamoto.

The information in this story is current as of press deadline Sunday, March 23 but with the current situation changing rapidly, updates will be available on The Molokai Dispatch Facebook page and website.

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