Kalihi-Palama Health Center’s Interim-Medical Director, Michael Walter joined John Veneri on Living808 to discuss how the center has responded to the pandemic.
“We have been very fortunate to have been able to provide continuous medical and behavioral health services throughout the pandemic. It has pretty much upended all of our departments, from admin. IT and facilities to dental, optometry, homeless services and medical. Every department has had to rethink and commit to addressing the pandemic while still meeting all the pre-pandemic community and clinic needs. We were even able to open a new clinical site in the middle of the pandemic, which was a huge challenge. We have had on-site covid testing since early in the pandemic and have been working with community partners to promote and provide Covid-19 vaccinations. Our approach has been to provide covid-19 services as part of the overall wellness of our patients. Testing and vaccination are extremely important parts of personal wellbeing, but we want our patients to understand that being well involves much more and that we are here to help them through and beyond Covid-19. Every person being tested or vaccinated has access to a nurse practitioner or physician to answer questions or address other needs. Our staff has been just amazing and have stepped up in so many ways.”
Walter also discussed how he’s sees the Kalihi-Palama communities affected by Covid-19
“Covid-19 is here to stay and we don’t know what it will look like in 3 or 6 months or in the coming years, but it is very clear now that Covid-19 is relentless and will reach into every part of our islands and into every community. This has and will continue to reshape healthcare delivery, far beyond when my practicing days are over. For our clinic, we need to be able to think creatively and pragmatically, understanding that we aren’t going to be doing things as we were. We have to look at how we will be able to safely incorporate Covid-19 care into our daily practices. One huge problem during the pandemic is the impact on other diseases, especially conditions of aging such as dementia and Alzheimer’s that have seen dramatic increases in mortality during the pandemic. How can we safely provide care in such a turbulent environment? Healthcare delivery in this country already had equity and access and cost problems before Covid-19, the pandemic has shown us that the system is resilient and adaptable, but huge disparities remain and we need fundamental shifts to be able to move forward safely, effectively and ready for the next pandemic. Universal access to consistently available, appropriate, respectful, predictable and reliable care is what clinics like ours need to remain committed to. “
Clink on the video link for the full interview.
For more information about the center, visit kphc.org