Building A New Health Plan

By Erhardt Preitauer
Wednesday - October 22, 2008
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By Erhardt Preitauer
Executive Director for ‘Ohana Health Plan

Growing up on Kauai, I have fond memories of playing in the taro patches, having potluck dinners at my auntie’s house and hiking the Sleeping Giant. Life was great.

It wasn’t until later, after I left Hawaii for college and career, that I realized how blessed I am to have been raised here. Our people, traditions and cultures provide a special connection to our heritage. It is this heritage that shaped my life, character and ethics. It is also what provided the foundation for all of my success.

When I first learned I would be coming home to work in our beautiful Hawaii, it was more than exciting - it was a dream come true. I have been given the opportunity to blend my years of healthcare experience with my love for Hawaii’s people.

Building a health plan for the state’s new QUEST Expanded Access (QExA) Medicaid program means I am able to give back to our people by touching the lives of our most vulnerable residents - low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

I decided to name this health plan ‘Ohana Health Plan, recognizing the importance of family in Hawaii. We also are creating a family among our staff, our members and the many different healthcare providers with whom we are partnering.

The ‘Ohana Health Plan ohana: creating a family atmosphere at work creates better health care

This philosophy also extends to the way we serve our members - we put members and their families at the center of care. Ultimately, this will result in better healthcare for our Medicaid seniors and people with disabilities.

One of the most important positions at ‘Ohana Health Plan is a service coordinator.

These men and women are healthcare professionals who will work with clients to help them effectively navigate the healthcare system. This service is personalized and also will work with the member’s primary care physician, who will serve as the central point of care.

In addition to having an ‘Ohana service coordinator, each member will have access to our 24/7 health adviser hotline and a variety of specialized health programs that target medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity and depression. We also will offer the option for members to self-direct their care, meaning they might even hire a family member to serve as a caregiver.

QExA will begin offering services to members on Feb. 1, 2009, and we are excited to start.

Our team recently moved into its new and permanent office in Waipahu, next to the sugar mill.

At full strength, we expect to have more than 100 staff on Oahu and dozens more throughout the Islands. I’m proud to bring jobs to Hawaii at a time when we need them most.

Most of all, we appreciate the opportunity we’ve been given to enhance the quality of life for our seniors and people with disabilities by playing an important role in their overall health and well-being.


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