With a population spike of 48 percent in Hawaiʻi County since 1990, healthcare resources in the islands’ rural areas are strained. To address this problem, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is drawing together physicians, pharmacists, nurses and other healthcare providers to launch the Center for Rural Health Science.
“Rural communities in Hawaiʻi experience many of the same problems as other rural communities in America. There is a shortage of physicians, pharmacists and other clinicians, and hospitals struggle to stay financially viable,” notes College of Pharmacy Dean John M. Pezzuto. “These challenges are more complex in the remote island state of Hawaiʻi.”
Karen Pellegrin, the center’s founding director, says the goal of the center is to improve life in rural communities through transformative models of health and healthcare. “This is a new initiative, but with more than $20 million in current grant funding and a solid staffing base, we will hit the ground running,” says Pellegrin.
“This center is an extraordinary opportunity for UH Hilo to help improve life in the rural communities of Hawaiʻi through new and better models of healthcare,” says Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney. “The center will have the resources, expertise and partners to succeed. Our College of Pharmacy collaborates effectively with hospitals and healthcare providers all over the state, and UH Hilo’s School of Nursing has enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to support the center’s work. This is an important way for UH Hilo to contribute to improving the health status of our region.”
Editor’s note: this story was adapted from Ka Lono Hanakahi.