Jill Omori, far right, directs medical students in a clinic operated by the H.O.M.E. Project

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine Associate Professor Jill Omori, is this year’s recipient of the Hawaiʻi Women Lawyers’ Distinguished Service Award for her work with the Homeless Outreach and Medical Education (H.O.M.E.) Project.

The mission of the Hawaii H.O.M.E. Project is to improve quality and access to health care for Hawaiʻi’s homeless, while increasing student and physician awareness and understanding of the homeless and their healthcare needs.

“I am truly humbled and honored to receive this award. To be recognized for doing something I love is very special,” said Omori. “I definitely share the honor with all the students, volunteers, physicians and community supporters that help to make H.O.M.E.. Project possible.”

Omori remembers that, during her days as a medical student, she wanted to be more exposed to the care of underprivileged patients. When she joined the JABSOM faculty, she felt students were not getting enough training in caring for homeless individuals. At that time, Hawaiʻii’s homeless population was growing rapidly, including in areas very near to JABSOM’s Kakaʻako Campus.

H.O.M.E. Project’s mobile clinic

“It was a dream that I had to start student-run homeless clinics for our medical school and to create a curriculum in underserved care for JABSOM. I was fortunate enough to receive a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to help fund my time to develop the curriculum and the H.O.M.E. Project was born out of that endeavor,” she says.

Omori considers The H.O.M.E. Project to be her proudest career accomplishment. What started off as a simple dream ended up making an impact within the community, especially to the homeless.

The project began with a single clinic, once a week. But with the help and support of the entire JABSOM community, H.O.M.E. expanded to four clinics per week at six different sites across Oʻahu. Omori enjoys seeing former students who worked with the project return as community physicians. And she is gratified when she sees patients transition into healthier lives.

Read more about Jill Omori in the JABSOM article.

—By Tina Shelton