Aloha Free Clinic lives up to its name to provide health care

Posted on Jul 2, 2020 in Main
Dr. Jim Ireland and Lt. Gov. Josh Green at the clinic’s opening.

Dr. Jim Ireland and Lt. Gov. Josh Green at the clinic’s opening.

For those who have lost their health insurance because of COVID-19, the new Aloha Free Clinic in Kalihi offers a lifeline. Open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the clinic in the Kalihi Medical Center at 2055 N. King Street provides free primary care and medications — especially for those with chronic conditions — until they can regain their healthcare coverage.

“If you have diabetes or high blood pressure and you don’t treat that for three or four months, that can lead to strokes, kidney failure and permanent damage and just from not having access to care,” said Dr. James Ireland, who joined with Lt. Gov. Josh Green to spearhead the effort. The clinic will provide in-person and telemedicine services from volunteer doctors and nurses at least through the end of August. Green, who is also a physician, said the telemedicine is important to reach patients on the neighbor islands. “If they have a need, we’ll set it up,” he told Hawai‘i News Now.

The challenge of opening the clinic in just two weeks fell to clinical director Dr. Emily Brewer, a nurse practitioner who has volunteered for relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti and Thailand. She oversees an army of volunteer doctors and nurses who provide the basic health services as well as outreach workers who help connect patients to ongoing systems of medical care.

Clinical director Dr. Emily Brewer with HPU nurse practitioner student Jenny Greenlee and volunteer pharmacist Kenneth Lo.

Clinical director Dr. Emily Brewer with HPU nurse practitioner student Jenny Greenlee and volunteer pharmacist Kenneth Lo.

“Some people came to us, thinking they weren’t covered by Med-QUEST, when actually they were,” she said. “Part of our job is to raise awareness about community health centers and services patients are eligible for.” Brewer said being part of the clinic, which saw 42 patients in just its first week of operation, has been immensely rewarding. “So many amazing individuals have come together to make this clinic happen,” she said. “Most people go into the healthcare profession because they want to help others, but the response from those offering to volunteer was more than we expected.” To make an appointment, contact [email protected], call  (808) 726-2600, or just walk in.

Read more in the July Capitol Connection newsletter

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