To reach Lāna‘i, Hawai‘i’s smallest publicly-accessible inhabited island, there are two options: a $200 roundtrip flight from Honolulu or a $60 ferry ride from Maui. For the 44% of the island’s population that live at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, the only option for affordable on-island health care is the Lāna‘i Community Health Center (LCHC). LCHC previously operated out of a converted three-bedroom home, unable to provide adequate healthcare to the remote island community. Missing services included obstetrics, mammography, psychiatry, inpatient substance abuse treatment, and oral health care. Typically, babies were born in Honolulu or Maui, and mothers-to-be relocated preterm to avoid endangering themselves or their babies.
In order to improve access in this remote rural community, CEI Capital Management LLC (CCML) used the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program to attract private capital to the native Hawaiian-led Federally Qualified Health Center. LCHC was able to construct a new 6,800 square foot health care facility that opened in May 2016, which not only was more easily accessible, but also nearly doubled LCHC’s patient capacity. It includes nine exam rooms, dental x- ray machinery, two dental operatories, lab facilities, conference and administrative offices and a community activity room.
As of their 2019 Fiscal Year End, LCHC was serving 70% of the island’s population and continues to focus on providing the highest quality health care for all their patients, regardless of insurance status. 62% of their patients are low income, (38% at or below 200% FPL), and 65% identify as an ethnic or racial minority (22% of patients who did not report their ethnic or racial minority are most likely non-white based on the islands population). LCHC continues to develop and implement programs to address the specific health needs of their community, which includes a focus on screening and managing hypertension and diabetes, as well as offering free fitness and wellness classes at local schools and on site. While most births still take place on the islands of Oahu or Maui, pregnant mothers are able to confidently stay on-island until 36 weeks gestation, thanks to being able to access ultrasound technology and expanded prenatal care at LCHC.
LCHC has also worked diligently to become an employer of choice for Lāna‘i residents. As of 2019, LCHC employs 38 full-time and 8 part-time staff, 63% of which were low income at time of hire and 46% (20 alumni and 1 student) of Lāna‘i High and Elementary School. LCHC is active in building the next generation of health-care workers through the provision of scholarships to Lāna‘i High and Elementary School graduates pursuing a college degree in a health-related field and their student internship programs.
Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, LCHC has served as an important community resource, both for testing, and for information shared in an accessible and culturally sensitive way. It is clear that in all their actions, LCHC remains focused on their motto: E Ola nō Lāna‘i – Life, Health and Well Being for Lāna‘i.
“CEI’s show of faith in our organization and our project was tremendous. This was a complicated project and it would have been easy to walk away, but CEI stayed involved, listened to the truth, and proceeded with our project. Mahalo nui loa, Maraming Salamat. We are forever grateful for CEI’s efforts and belief.” –DIANA V. SHAW, PHD, MBA, MPH, FACMPE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LCHC
All photos courtesy of LCHC
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