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UH-West Oahu teams up with Waianae Community Center in the fight against drugs

University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu
June Aono, (808) 454-4735
University of Hawaii-West Oahu
Posted: Dec 13, 2005

The University of Hawaiʻi -West Oʻahu (UHWO), in partnership with the Waiʻanae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (WCCHC) and Malama Recovery Program, has received a grant totaling $471,600 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to build a new drug rehabilitation center to serve the community. The 2,040-square-foot facility will be located on the grounds of WCCHC and will cost approximately $537,943. The remainder of the grant funds will go toward programs for drug and vocational rehabilitation.

The facility will provide clinical services for an expanded drug rehabilitation program, as well as initiate vocational rehabilitation as part of the drug recovery program. The added space will also increase training and consultation services for Malama Recovery Program staff and internship opportunities for UHWO students.

The partnership will allow UHWO to take a larger role in working with the WCCHC to offer drug rehabilitation to low-income and unemployed Native Hawaiians, in turn helping recovering addicts to re-enter the job market.

"UHWO is proud to be part of this project which we believe will make a significant difference in a community long-plagued by drug problems," said UHWO Chancellor Gene Awakuni. "As neighbors we must assist those with limited access to the resources that can benefit their health and socio-economic well-being. By expanding rehabilitation and health care services, we expect to improve the quality of life for the workforce and thereby impact the region‘s economy in a positive manner."

The Waiʻanae area is ranked first in unemployment and poverty, with an average income of $13,348, compared to Honolulu County‘s per capita income of $21,998. Waiʻanae‘s unemployment rate is 8.6 percent, which is more than double that of Honolulu County‘s average of 3.8 percent. The poverty rate is 21.9 percent, compared to Honolulu County‘s average of 9.9 percent.

"With substance use being such a major problem impacting our families, we desperately need the additional facilities provided by the grant in our partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu. We also call upon healthcare payers to support reimbursement for the substance abuse treatment services that will be housed on our campus," said Richard Bettini, WCCHC Chief Executive Officer.

"The Health Center‘s model that integrates behavioral health services with primary care will be enhanced with the addition of integrated substance abuse treatment," said Bettini. "Clients served through the program will also benefit from other services that will be located adjacent to the new building, such as Native Hawaiian traditional healing, nutrition and fitness, and a healthy dining facility."


The University of Hawaii-West Oahu is an upper-division campus that caters to transfer students on Oʻahu and statewide via flexible schedules and distance technology, offering bachelor's degrees in humanities, social sciences, and business and public administration. For more information, visit