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New Wahiawā diabetes specialty center to provide holistic and culturally relevant care

Wahiawā Health
Kuʻulei Nāahiʻelua is the center’s director. She is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and a diabetes specialist.

The Wahiawā Center for Community Health recently opened a diabetes specialty center to address the high rates of diabetes and prediabetes in the islands.

Staff are working to identify high-risk patients and develop care plans that address obstacles to getting treatment. That includes language barriers and economic challenges, as well as food, education and environmental factors.

Kuʻulei Nāahiʻelua, the center’s director, is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and a diabetes specialist.

She said a key component is treatment plans that are holistic and culturally relevant.

Because we’re so diverse ethnically here in Hawaiʻi, it’s really important for us to identify ways that we can bridge the gaps in patient care by addressing those specific values and the patient goals in a culturally appropriate manner,” she said. “While western medicine is definitely a vital component of care, we have the opportunity for it to be integrated into more of a comprehensive care plan that really incorporates the patients’ values.”

In Hawaiʻi, more than 128,000 adults have diagnosed diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. That accounts for about 11% of the adult population.

Nāahiʻelua pointed out that it’s also important to have these essential medical services in all communities, especially those in rural areas.

“Historically, patients in Wahiawā and the North Shore have really had to travel far to hospitals and clinics to receive specialty care, including diabetes care. And there’s so many barriers for our patients, including transportation or caring for young children or aging family members,” she said. “Developing new specialty services within our community really addresses those barriers and allows the patients to have the quality comprehensive care closer to home.”

The center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, click here.

Jayna Omaye is the culture and arts reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at
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