HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – An urgent care clinic that caters to the homeless is in the works for Kaneohe.
The clinic is designed to save money by preventing emergencies ― and more serious illness. Patients can walk-in and be seen by a doctor, even if they don’t have any money.
The clinic will be housed in the Kaneohe Civic Center, next door to the police station.
It would be Oahu’s second Joint Outreach Center. The first, in Chinatown, has treated hundreds of patients since opening in mid-April of last year.
While the Kaneohe clinic will be open to the public, its mission is to help the homeless ― many of whom live right outside the door.
“We’ve seen over the years the increase of the homeless population here in Kaneohe,” said state Rep. Lisa Kitagawa, whose district includes Kaneohe.
Kitagawa along with state Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole and state Rep. Scot Matayoshi, started work on the project late last year.
“We’ve heard from a lot of the homeless individuals that the reason why they don’t go over the mountain to get services is because this is their home,” Kitagawa said.
“So they’re reluctant to travel into town. Having something on the Windward side would really connect them to the resources they need.”
The plan is to model the clinic after Chinatown’s clinic, providing an alternative to the emergency room for basic medical services.
“Wound infections. A lot of people have staph infections,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich. “We also provide care for just daily things like pneumonia and coughs and colds.”
But care doesn’t stop there.
Outreach workers will be on hand to connect people with shelter, drug treatment and psychiatric help.
“One of the big things were trying to do is establish relationships with these people who have severe mental illness,” said Miscovich.
The three-year pilot project is expected to cost about $500,000. Close to 80 percent of that money is coming from local businesses and non-profits.
Donors said the project underscores that the government alone can’t solve homelessness.
“It’s really a grassroots effort,” said Georgianna DeCosta, of the Harold Castle Foundation. “No one is going to come and save us. We have to solve our own problems.”
The goal is to have the center open by the end of the summer.