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Statewide grants boost community vaccination

HONOLULU — Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i is on the list of several grant recipients from the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, which has announced 15 grants to support community vaccination efforts.

With the aim of Federally Qualified Community Health Centers to vaccinate an estimated 20,000 of the most vulnerable people over the next three months, the new round of grants will extend the impact of the HCF’s telehealth grants of $1.3 million awarded in January 2021, an effort conducted in partnership with The Freeman Foundation and the Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association.

Collectively, nearly $2.5 million has been donated in the last six months to community health centers across the state to ensure that the organizations have the essential tools to meet the needs of their communities during the pandemic.

“Community health centers have always played a vital role in Hawai‘i, 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 Hawai‘i’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 FQHCs across Hawai‘i will receive $1.09 million from HCF’s Hawai‘i Resilience Fund, Maui and Big Island Strong Funds and Kaua‘i 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 Hawai‘i 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,” said van Bergeijk.

“The state supports the invaluable work of FQHCs as they increase access to care and health equity within underserved communities throughout the islands,” said Dr. Elizabeth Char, state Department of Health director.

“As a critical partner in the state’s vaccination plan, FQHCs have a vital role in protecting the health of the people of Hawai‘i, and we appreciate HCF’s contribution to strengthen this essential community partner.”

“The vaccine grant we received from HCF has given us the confidence we need to continue in the fight against COVID-19,” said Kimo Alameda, CEO of Bay Clinic on Hawai‘i Island. “It’s an honor for us to provide vaccinations to our most vulnerable patients, and because we’re an FQHC, it’s our mission to serve these underserved areas and communities.”
Source: The Garden Island

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