U.S. Surgeon General Comes to Visit
Last week, Molokai had a visit from U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who spent a day in Kalaupapa and visited Molokai General Hospital. The visit was part of a statewide tour, where he discussed issues like homelessness and rural health.
“Visited the rural Island of Molokai on Monday and learned more about the challenges federal, state, and local governments faced in caring for this unique and rural population,” Adams tweeted on July 30.
Adams is the 20th Surgeon General of the United States, a position nominated by the U.S. President and confirmed by the Senate, which holds the status of leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government.
His personal priorities include raising awareness and working to prevent what he calls a national “opioid epidemic” as well as the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.
“I was really blown away by both the warmth of the people of Hawaii, and the unique challenges they face,” said Adams. “Despite being known as one of the healthier states on average, I learned that Hawaii has a significant problem with youth vaping.”
Adams spent last Monday morning in Kalaupapa, touring the settlement and visiting with patient residents. While on topside Molokai in the afternoon, he visited Molokai General Hospital and spoke with Drs. Aluli and Thomas.
“I was especially moved by my visits to Molokai and Waianae, two remote and rural areas where disproportionate numbers of native Hawaiians suffer from smoking, cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease,” Adams said after his visit. “I shared HHS and OSG (Office of the Surgeon General) initiatives to address youth e-cigarette use, kidney disease prevention and care, end the HIV epidemic in America, address health disparities, and the intersection between community health and military readiness.”
Molokai General Hospital President Janice Kalanihuia said it was “a real honor to have him visit.”
“He is from a rural area and understands the issues we have in terms or isolation and air transportation to higher levels of care,” she said. “He commented many times on how well equipped we are and asked a lot of questions about how transfers via air ambulance works. He was happy to hear that we have a plane based on Molokai, cutting down the time it takes to get emergent patients where they need to be.”
Adams enjoyed his visit with hospital staff, tweeting, “Wonderful to tour Molokai General Hospital and learned more about the unique challenges of this rural island. Loved hearing about their mission to deliver better health outcomes to their community and their work as the premier acute care facility on the island.”
Among others he met while on island, Adams tweeted about Molokai High student Mallory Go, who is working to pursue a career in the field of health.
“So glad to meet young people – especially minorities and those from rural areas – inspired to pursue health professions!” he commented, with a photo of the two of them he shared on social media.