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Hawaiʻi Keiki provides school-based health care services during the academic year.

A leader and advocate for nursing education and community partnerships, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene (SONDH) Dean Mary Boland has been named the 2020 School-Based Health Care Champion by the national nonprofit School-Based Health Alliance for her impactful work in developing and leading the Hawaiʻi Keiki: Healthy and Ready to Learn Program.

Mary Boland
Mary Boland

Now in its sixth year, Hawaiʻi Keiki is a partnership between the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE) and SONDH, which supports public schools to achieve student, school and system success through school-based health care services during the academic year. The program provides registered nurses and nurse practitioners (APRNs) to every HIDOE complex area across the state.

“We applaud Mary’s efforts to address individual and population health, as well as her success in increasing children’s access to medical care across Hawaiʻi. Mary’s thoughtfulness, innovation and strong advocacy for children are inspiring,” stated School-Based Health Alliance.

Program successes

In 2014, the Hawaiʻi Keiki Program was launched with four master’s prepared nurses/nurse practitioners strategically placed in high-need HIDOE complex areas across the state. In 2019, due to Boland’s successful advocacy efforts with the state government, the Hawaiʻi Legislature established recurring funding for Hawaiʻi Keiki, with total funding to support school health and school nursing reaching more than $3 million dollars.

To address COVID-19 in the new school year, Hawaiʻi Keiki is offering a no-cost health hotline and telehealth visits as an extension of services provided to students in the traditional school health room. Fifteen new registered nurses and one advanced practice registered nurse have also been added to the current team to work with HIDOE in collaboration with the Hawaiʻi Department of Health.

Hawaiʻi Keiki has been established as an inter-professional training hub for nursing, medicine, pharmacy and dental hygiene throughout the UH system, enabling health care learning as well as collaboration of care for high-need students.

“Mary’s vision and statewide effort is a successful, collaborative model that engaged representatives from the major health care system providers, insurers and the State Departments of Health, Human Services and Education to facilitate maximizing partnerships to address health needs in schools,” stated her colleagues at SONDH.

Boland, who had intended to retire in summer 2020, has decided to delay her retirement until summer 2021 to support campus planning efforts for post-COVID Hawaiʻi.

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