Cover Story, Hogue, We’re No. 1!

Don Chapman
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August 02, 2006
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As the editor of MidWeek I want to let readers know up front that I have a personal connection with this week’s cover story by Alice Keesing on Hawaii’s community health centers. I’m a member of the board of directors at the Kalihi-Palama Health Center.

So, like everyone else at KalihiPalama, I’m tremendously proud that Dr. Beatrice Loo of KHPC, one of the three docs on the cover this week, was named among the best dentists in town by Honolulu magazine. A pediatric dentist, she’s a perfect example of the top-rate medical care available at community health centers to anyone, regardless of wealth or insurance.

To be honest, until I was asked to become a member of the Kalihi-Palama board in 2004 and was sent to the National Association of Community Health Centers convention for a week of training later that year (Board Boot Camp, they call it), I was only vaguely aware of the network of Hawaii’s community health centers. Or that they were part of a national network. Today, it’s one of the things in which I strongly believe.

At the core of community health centers, which grew in part out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, is the idea of “culturally appropriate health care.” Meaning, health and wellness are more than pills and following a doctor’s advice.

With hospitals cutting services to cut costs, the importance of community health centers will only continue to grow. Example: Queen’s is cutting one of its clinics that served the native Hawaiian population of Papakolea. So the Kalihi-Palama board voted last month to expand service outside of Kalihi-Palama to include the folks of Papakolea.

Each of Hawaii’s 13 health centers is unique in its services, but a few facts from Kalihi-Palama may be instructive: Last year we saw more than 90,000 patient visits. In addition to general medicine, we provide vision, dental and psychiatric care, offer a special women, infants and children’s unit that emphasizes prenatal care, and provide health care to the homeless. About 56 percent of our patients do not have health insurance, including many working folks. About 70 percent are at or below the federal poverty level. More than half are immigrants, many of whom came here with pre-existing health conditions. We provide interpreters for 11 different languages, and our staff speaks six more languages. We’re at maximum capacity, and every indicator says that the need will only continue to grow in coming years. As Alice points out in her story, the number of people using the health centers increased 33 percent between 2001 and 2005.

Which is why the KPHC board also voted to begin a capital campaign and build a new, $24 million clinic. (Donations, anyone?)

Please read Alice’s excellent story, and you may agree with me when I say that I hate to think of the mess Hawaii would be in without our health centers and the good work they provide their patients and our community.

three star

I’m an old-school editor - newspapers should report news, not make news. Unfortunately, Quentin Kawananakoa has dragged MidWeek into the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary. At issue for Quentin and his advisers is Bob Hogue continuing to write his sports column while running against Quentin.

The issue came up when Bob first ran for the state Senate. Our policy then was that Bob could continue to write his sports column, but could not stray into political matters or anything that might come up on the Senate floor. He has stuck faithfully to that.

Jerry Coffee, another MidWeek columnist who is running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate, is a different case. He writes primarily about political issues and public policy. Jerry voluntarily chose to not write his column while campaigning, which we would have asked of him in any event, because each of his columns would constitute a campaign speech.

Sadly, Quentin has accused both Bob and MidWeek‘s editors of “unethical” behavior. To me, an heir of the Campbell Estate asking a guy, who works multiple jobs to support his family, to give up a significant portion of his income so that he can run for public office is as petty as it is unethical. The real issue here for me is that our representative democracy requires citizen legislators - regular folks, not just professional politicians and wealthy people who can fund their own campaigns, to run for office. That’s Bob.

“But,” one of Quentin’s people argued in an e-mail to me, “Hogue is known as a sports guy.”

Right, everyone is known for something, Quentin included.

Oh, and thanks to B.J. Reyes of the Star-Bulletin for a well-reported story on this subject last Friday.

I was expecting a call from the Advertiser as well, but either they didn’t deem it newsworthy or they just didn’t want to give MidWeek any free publicity. Can’t blame ‘em - we just passed their Sunday paper in readership, according to SMS research, and are officially the best-read newspaper in Hawaii.

So thank you for reading.

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