A traditional Lion Dance marked the official opening of the Joint Outreach Center – located next to the Downtown Police Substation on Hotel Street. Leaders from government, healthcare, and the non-profit communities gathered to mark its opening.
The center is a no-cost healthcare option for homeless residents in Honolulu’s urban core. As Honolulu’s homeless population has increased, so has the demand for medical services. They often end up transported by ambulance to the emergency room for minor problems – creating runaway costs and overburdening hospitals.
The center hopes to reduce that trend by coordinating efforts of police, outreach workers, and volunteer medical providers. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the new approach is the type of change the city needs. The city’s Police Chief Susan Ballard says the program is an important step toward addressing the city’s homeless crisis but cautions it’s only a start.
One of the non-profit partners in the Joint Outreach Center is the recently-formed Hawaii Homeless Healthcare Hui or H4. Medical professionals with H4 will be providing healthcare services at the center for free. Emergency Medicine Doctor Josh Green is one of them. He is the founder of H4 and heads its Board of Directors. He also represents Hawaii Island in the State Senate and is a Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor.
H4’s Executive Director Andy Mounthongdy hopes the new service will help struggling residents—and the community at large.
Medical services will be available to any member of the public on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1 to 8 PM.