AlohaCare grant helps Waikiki Health reduce over-utilization of emergency rooms

Investing in community-based programs to improve the health of Hawaii residents

Sponsored by AlohaCare

AlohaCare is committed to improving the health of all Hawaii residents and that includes some of the most vulnerable — many of whom are homeless. The organization is partnering with Waikiki Health, and HI Now host Jobeth Devera is with Jorge Garcia with AlohaCare and Waikiki Health CEO Phyllis Dendle to talk more about the partnership.

Waiwai Ola is AlohaCare’s Community Innovation Investment Program. The name “Waiwai Ola” means “Health Richness,” and the mission behind the program is to invest in community-based programs to improve the health of Hawaii residents. Waiwai Ola has provided approximately $5 million to support a total of 20 grants throughout the state to provide better patient outcomes, lower costs, and improved patient and provider experiences in the islands.

Wakiki Health used its grant to address the problem of high emergency room utilization. Through its community partners at Queen’s Medical Center and Straub Medical Center, the health center was able to identify patients who are “super-utilizers.” These were defined as people with nine or more visits to an ER per year.

“The grant gave us the funding to hire a dedicated Community Health Worker who assisted our Nurse Care Coordinators to make a dedicated effort at reaching these individuals, many of whom were homeless, but located within our service area,” Dendle explains.

Despite challenges, many super-utilizers received appropriate medical and behavioral healthcare. A number of homeless patients also received shelter as a result of the program, and there was a decrease in ER visits.

“We’re really encouraged by the great work we’ve seen done by organizations like Waikiki Health and our other grantees,” Garcia says. “Our goal is to continue to support good programs that really make a positive impact and are implementing innovative ways to reduce the cost burden of healthcare in our state.”

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