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Lifestyle // Island Matters
Mufi Hannemann

Kahuku Medical Center Thriving

(from left) Lance Segawa, director of operations Hawaii Health Systems Corp.; Stephany Vaioleti, administrator, Kahuku Medical Center; and David Hamlin, director of nursing, KMC | Photo courtesy D.K. Morikawa

Oftentimes we hear how government is failing us from Washington, D.C., to Hawaii.

So when we see a great success story where government is making a positive contribution to health care in a small, rural community like Kahuku, we need to applaud its efforts.

Thanks to the hard work and persistence of many area legislators, both past and present, working side by side with determined community leaders, the state has made it a priority to keep Kahuku Medical Center (KMC) open by making it an affiliate of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC).

Under HHSC, KMC has increased revenues from $14 million to $17 million.

It has implemented an electronic medical record system, making it one of the first in the state to do so, which helped improve quality care and patient satisfaction to a 94 percent rate! The net result is, for the 22,000-plus residents of Hauula, Laie, Kahuku and the surrounding areas, and the thousands of visitors who traverse through this district, they now have a hospital that is no longer in bankruptcy and can service their immediate medical needs. I can’t begin to tell you the “choke” number of relatives and friends who were either born at KMC or have depended on it for its services through the years.

All of this newfound success would not have been possible without the effective “boots on the ground” leadership of administrator Stephany Nihipali Vaioleti. A social worker and lawyer by training, she has worked at KMC for nearly 15 years and has experienced “the worst of times and now the best of times.” Having been born, reared, educated and now raising her family in the area, Vaioleti brings a passion and commitment beyond KMC. For example, she and husband Doug, among other pursuits, are involved actively as coaches for youth athletic teams.

Vaioleti is nowhere satisfied and content with where KMC is today. More importantly, she totally is cognizant of some of the difficulties that lie ahead of KMC and the ongoing fiscal challenges of HHSC. But for this small, precious community on the North Shore, it is reassuring to know that Vaioleti is at the helm eager, enthusiastic and totally committed to ensuring that the best days are ahead for Kahuku Medical Center.

Family Fun Festivals, Anyone?

Hawaii has quite a reputation for having some of the best festivals for families and friends to enjoy. Two of my favorite events that were started while I was mayor of Honolulu, and which enabled the city to step up and throw its support behind them, were Hawaii Seafood and Fishing Festival, and Taste of Kalihi.

Beginning in 2005, Pacific Islands Fisheries Group (PIFG) became the driving force behind the seafood festival, which was held this past weekend at Pier 38 and brought together more than 100 vendors and some of the best of Hawaii’s fishing and seafood community groups.

Besides dispensing free bamboo fishing poles to some lucky keiki, PIFG also conducted a special competition for fishermen to donate their catches to the needy and disadvantaged. It added a nice touch to their weeklong observance of the importance of our ocean resources and our fishing heritage.

Kudos to PIFG for coming through with another outstanding festival that brought much joy to all who participated!

In the case of the second celebration, the city worked with Filipino Chamber of Commerce to launch this event in 2006.

Thanks to the chamber, it has evolved into an annual “Pride of Kalihi” celebration with great ethnic foods, entertainment and activities, including the largest group dance in Hawaii under the stars. For many, the street festival in Dillingham Shopping Plaza area serves as a homecoming – four of the seven governors of our state once resided in Kalihi.

Maria Etrata, FCCH’s popular president, guarantees that this year’s event, which will be held this Saturday (Oct. 19) from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., will be a fun-filled day for you and your ohana!

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