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Grassroots homeless care group adopted by Kalihi-Palama Health Center

Zoe Dym
Image shows the exam room inside the Kalihi-Palama Health Care Center in Honolulu.

A nonprofit organization that has helped hundreds of homeless community members will join forces with Kalihi-Palama Health Center in the new year.

Hawaiʻi Homeless Healthcare Hui, also known as H4, will continue to deliver care to the underserved Honolulu population now that they are under the new control of KPHC, effective last week.

H4’s Pūnāwai Medical Respite is set to receive funds from the Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association, Island Hospice and the Queen’s Health System.

"This was our biggest financial support of any project," said HMSA's president Mark Mugiishi.

About 30% of Queen's emergency room patients are homeless, according to Mugiishi. The short-term housing and healthcare facility can provide care to people experiencing homelessness without the need to call 911.

"The teams here will be specialists in dealing with folks who are experiencing homelessness, and can then connect them with the shelters or connect them with behavioral health and have follow up care because this is a primary care center," said Director of Honolulu's Department of Emergency Services James Ireland.

"People who come here can really go full circle for a lot of things — where if they just went to the ER, which is also very expensive, may not be able to complete that circle," said Ireland.

Members of the Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement (C.O.R.E.) program plan to bring awareness to the new resource for the homeless community.

Pūnāwai Clinic has seven new exam rooms and two floors of temporary housing. Each room is a studio apartment that can house two beds.

Clinic operations begin Jan. 23. Walk-ins are accepted. Hours and operations may change as the facility attracts more patients. For more information, click here.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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