Legislators, nonprofit groups and business leaders attended a blessing ceremony for the the new Joint Outreach Center medical clinic in Kaneohe on Friday. The following day, the center held an open house that allowed members of the community to learn more about how the clinic plans to respond to the health care needs of Windward Oahu’s homeless population — the second highest number of unsheltered homeless on the Island, according to the Institute for Human Services.
This three-year pilot program aims to offer comprehensive services from hygiene to advanced medical care, and overtime, will address mental health and substance abuse issues.
The new public-private partnership, led by state legislators Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, Rep. Lisa Kitagawa and Rep. Scot Matayoshi, was launched to expand services to Kaneohe, and is being operated by the nonprofit, Hawaii Homeless Healthcare Hui.
“The need here is great,” Andy Mounthongdy, executive director of Hawaii Homeless Healthcare Hui, told Pacific Business News. “Currently, there are little resources for homeless services on the Windward side.”
In 2018, Hawaii Homeless Healthcare Hui opened up two medical service locations: the Institute for Human Services’ men’s shelter in Iwilei and the Chinatown Joint Outreach Center, which the new Kaneohe center is modeled after.
Many private sector partners have supported and funded the project through the Hawaii Executive Conference Health and Wellness Committee.
The partnership is a result of leaders from the Hawaii Executive Conference adopting Hawaii Community Foundation’s CHANGE Framework, committing to collaborate to help address some of Hawaii’s most pressing issues.
“Hawaii’s most difficult problems require all of us to reach across sectors and work together,” said Bob Harrison, co-chair of HEC’s CHANGE Health and Wellness Committee, in a statement. “HCF’s CHANGE Framework is providing HEC committees the opportunity to look beyond our respective leadership roles and create the change we would all like to see in our communities. We’re coming together so that our people and place have the opportunity to thrive for generations to come.”
To start the new program, the partners raised more than $500,000 through fundraising to fund the build-out of the 1,100 square-foot space. The clinic will also be employing at least five part-time staff to help run day-to-day operations.
Mounthongdy says homelessness touches all parts of the community — and that businesses are part of that community.
“Business leaders have the capacity to get involved,” he said.
The Kaneohe Joint Outreach Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.