County on Opening of Puna Community Medical Center

Media Release

Mayor delivers $35,000 check to Puna Community Medical Center

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi brought more than just aloha to the blessing of the new Puna Community Medical Center Sunday in Pahoa. The mayor brought a check for $35,000 to help the clinic through its first month.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi, at the lectern, presents a $35,000 check to the Puna Community Medical Center as, from left, interim board President Tiffany Edwards Hunt, and board members Bill Parecki and Anne Tagoilelagi look on Sunday at the PCMC’s blessing ceremony

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi, at the lectern, presents a $35,000 check to the Puna Community Medical Center as, from left, interim board President Tiffany Edwards Hunt, and board members Bill Parecki and Anne Tagoilelagi look on Sunday at the PCMC’s blessing ceremony

The fledgling non-profit community medical center was celebrating the opening of its urgent care treatment center in the Pahoa Marketplace, but the board of directors was worried about where it would get its operating funds. Interim PCMC President Tiffany Edwards Hunt led a delegation of board members to explain their situation to Mayor Kenoi last week.

Kenoi, who was born in nearby Kalapana, made no promises but he found funds in the budget set aside for health care planning that he would rather spend on projects that can help people now. “We determined that these funds should be used for direct programs and services and rural communities,” he said.

Most people in the communities of Lower Puna have had to travel long distances to get treatment for injuries and ailments. Now they have a local clinic to go to instead of spending time and energy traveling to Hilo for treatment.

The PCMC was only an idea just a few years ago when Pahoa resident Dan Domizio, a long-time physician’s assistant in the area, personally took on the task of raising money to build an urgent care clinic in the rural community. After being told he shouldn’t wait for outside help to get it started, he and friends formed a non-profit corporation to meet the challenge themselves.

With hard work and donations from many neighbors and friends, and $170,000 from the Hawaii County Council, the sparkling new urgent care center is ready to open. But Domizio had put his staff on hold, telling them not to leave their current jobs until he had assurance that he could pay them. He estimated it will cost $35,000 a month to keep the clinic’s doors open.

The surprise presentation of a $35,000 check by Mayor Kenoi brought tears to Domizio’s eyes. “This door may be open now,” he said.

The PCMC board of directors wants the clinic to be the first step toward establishment of a comprehensive health center in Pahoa using the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center on Oahu as a model. “Community-based efforts like this deserve our support,” Kenoi said.

Interim PMC President Tiffany Edwards Hunt said that after she and other board members met with Kenoi to explain the critical juncture they’ve reached with the clinic, she was impressed with  “how much he knows about our cause, our needs. We did not have to ask for the money.”

“I’m glad we could do it,” Kenoi said. Health care affects everyone, and although it is primarily a state function, “It behooves us to help whenever we can,” he said.

Sunday afternoon’s blessing and maile lei cutting ceremony at the Pahoa Marketplace was attended by hundreds of people, including the cast of  the stage play “Rent,” a Theater Arts Conservatory production whose performances in East Hawaii this month will benefit the clinic.

Representing the Hawaii County Council were Fifth District Councilwoman Emily Naeole, who was instrumental in obtaining the County funding, and Fourth District Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi.

Councilwoman Naeole helped organize the celebration and participated in the untying of the maile along with Mayor Kenoi and PCMC office manager Maraiah Newte-Yamamoto.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi (left) applauds as Puna Community Medical Center office manager Maraiah Newte-Yamamoto (center) and Hawaii County Councilwoman Emily Naeole (facing the door), untie the maile lei to open the new medical center in Pahoa on Sunday.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi (left) applauds as Puna Community Medical Center office manager Maraiah Newte-Yamamoto (center) and Hawaii County Councilwoman Emily Naeole (facing the door), untie the maile lei to open the new medical center in Pahoa on Sunday.

One Response

  1. nice article… thanks

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