Grants extend capacity of community health centers to vaccinate underserved residents

  • Courtesy photo A nurse at Bay Clinic administers a COVID vaccination to a patient. Bay Clinic is one of several community health centers throughout the state to receive grant funds from the Hawaii Community Foundation to help support vaccination efforts.

To support the critical work of federally qualified health centers in the well-being of their communities, the Hawaii Community Foundation announced last week a new investment in the form of grants to support and accelerate community vaccination efforts.

With the aim of these community health centers throughout the state to vaccinate an estimated 20,000 of Hawaii’s most vulnerable people during the next three months, the new round of grants will extend the impact of HCF’s telehealth grants of $1.3 million awarded in January, an effort conducted in partnership with The Freeman Foundation and the Hawaii Medical Service Association. Collectively, nearly $2.5 million has been donated in the past six months to community health centers throughout the state to ensure the organizations have the essential tools to meet the needs of their communities during the pandemic.

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“Community health centers have always played a vital role in Hawaii and the past year has made their value even clearer,” says Chris van Bergeijk, senior vice president and chief impact officer at HCF. “By increasing our investment in the capacities of Hawaii’s community health centers, we intend to fortify and accelerate the impact of a wide range of initiatives addressing the needs of the medically underserved that have long existed in our islands.”

The 15 health centers will receive $1.09 million from HCF’s Hawaii Resilience Fund, Maui and Big Island Strong Funds and Kauai Health Fund for vaccination efforts. Approximately 90% of the grant monies will be used to offset staffing costs, helping to preserve and create vitally important jobs.

More broadly, the grants are intended to address technological, language and geographic barriers to administer vaccines among historically underserved populations, mitigate transportation challenges in rural areas, serve the special needs of people without housing or internet connectivity and establish systems to make it easier for patients to schedule and receive vaccines. Grant recipients will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding patient prioritization, which includes kupuna and those with health conditions that put them at higher risk.

“The generous gift from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott to the Hawaii Resilience Fund in December of last year has allowed our impact to go even further in meeting the evolving needs of the community during this pandemic,” van Bergeijk says.

“The vaccine grant we received from HCF has given us the confidence we need to continue in the fight against COVID-19,” says Kimo Alameda, CEO of Bay Clinic. “It’s an honor for us to provide vaccinations to our most vulnerable patients, and because we’re an (federally qualified health center), it’s our mission to serve these underserved areas and communities.”

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The 15 community health centers receiving grants are:

Hawaii Island

• Bay Clinic

• Hamakua-Kohala Health

• West Hawaii Community Health Center

Kauai

• Hoola Lahui Hawaii

Lanai

• Lanai Community Health Center

Maui

• Hana Health

• Malama I Ke Ola Health Center

Molokai

• Molokai Community Health Center

Oahu

• Kalihi-Palama Health Center

• Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services

• Koolauloa Health Center

• Wahiawa Health

• Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center

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• Waikiki Health

• Waimanalo Health Center

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