Hawaiʻi Island community health centers to merge by next summer
Two of Hawaiʻi Island’s largest community health centers plan to merge their operations next summer. The Bay Clinic and the West Hawaiʻi Community Health Center serve an estimated 40,000 residents around the island. And both groups say they can do a better job delivering health care by working together.
Big Island residents whose health care needs are being met by Hilo’s Bay Clinic or Kona’s West Hawaiʻi Community Health Center can expect few changes, if any, from the newly announced merger. That’s according to Bay Clinic CEO Kimo Alameda.
“Patients can rest assure that nothing is really changing, and employees can also rest assure that nothing’s really changing in the next couple of months,” says Alameda, “But once we make the merger there’s a lot of good in store for both patients and employees.”
Alameda expects an expansion of behavioral health care services for East Hawaiʻi patients and a wider network of pharmacy partners for Kona patients. Alameda approached West Hawaiʻi Community Health Center CEO Richard Taaffe last July about the potential island-wide merger.
“It’s always about the island, it’s always about the community and if we can work together to better serve the community, it’s a no brainer,” says Taaffe, “Obviously we had to do our due diligence, but it was all about the vision for the future.”
The board of directors for both entities met separately in late September to approve the merger. Services and personnel have already begun to integrate.
But the deal still needs the approval of the Health Resources and Services Administration, the federal agency responsible for overseeing Federally Qualified Health Centers like West Hawaiʻi and Bay Clinic.
The effective date of the merger is July 1, 2022.