The Puna Community Medical Center Foundation inaugurated its Hawaiian Healing Center starting with a Hawaiian medicinal herb Kipuka Garden.
The inauguration was held May 22 at the PCMCF campus located after the 9-mile marker on Highway 130, just before Pahoa.
PCMCF President Steve Sparks said that the opening of the Kipuka Garden is the start of the Hawaiian Healing Center project of PCMCF and is ultimately intended to benefit the community through community workshops and education on the application and processing of the plants.
“As we herbalists find it difficult if not impossible to access adequate supplies of medicinal plants growing in the wild, it is imperative to create gardens for use within the community. It is no longer enough to grow and process the traditional plants for use by a handful of family members or friends. The community is large and requires a large supply of clean, toxin-free, healthy medicinal plants. Native leaders have been working hard over the years to educate the community in using conventional evidence-based wisdom with traditional, cultural practices. This month, leaders in Puna have begun to build a healing center for the community, by starting a new garden of Hawaiian medicinal plants,” said Kumu Dane Silva, known Hawaiian medicinal practitioner and PCMCF vice president.
Hawaiian medicinal plants initially planned for the Kipuka are ‘Uhaloa, Noni, ‘Olena, Kalo, La‘i, Niu, ‘Awa and Kukui.
Sparks said that the Hawaiian Healing Center will be an important component of the larger Puna Community Medical Campus that is planned to also include a dental center, a women’s health center, a hospital and an emergency room.
Aside from president Sparks, present during the inauguration were former State Sen. Russell Ruderman, Puna House Rep. Greggor Ilagan, former County Council member Eileen Ohara, Kahuna Kalikolehua Kanaele, PCMCF Vice President Kumu Dane Silva, Treasurer Ralph Boyea, Secretary JD Domizio, and board members Luana Jones, Ariel Murphy and Dr. Hart Miller.
PCMCF Board members Rene Siracusa and Bill Parecki who passed on in 2020 were honored during the inaugural ceremonies for their work in making the campus possible. In particular, Rene Siracusa, known Puna community leader, wrote the grant application that Ruderman shepherded through the state legislature for the lease of the campus site from the Department of Land Natural Resources and for expenses related to site planning and development.
The nonprofit Puna Community Medical Center, which PCMCF supports, was established in 2007 as a brain child of Dan Domizio, PCMC’s first medical practitioner, to provide affordable and accessible medical care to the Puna community. For years it survived on donations and grants written both by Domizio and former PCMC President Rene Siracusa. In 2018 PCMC became a part of the East Hawaii Health System, which includes the Hilo Medical Center, Ka‘u General Hospital, and other medical facilities on the Big Island.