Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center
In 1966, at a time when those on the Leeward side seeking medical care had to travel to Honolulu on a single-lane road, residents came together in an initiative to bring healthcare back to the isolated Waianae Coast. “They had been without medical service since 1946, when the Waianae sugar plantation shut down its operation,” says Richard Bettini, President and CEO of Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (WCCHC).
Five years after the community-driven effort began, they established WCCHC. “When we reflect on the origin of our name, we are in awe and respect of the vision our founders had over 40 years ago,” Bettini says. “That vision of “comprehensive” health has been the guidance for us to continually develop a broad range of integrated health, social services and health career training programs for the communities we serve.” This model is often called a “medical home” today.
When it was first established, WCCHC had just one doctor and five staff members. Now celebrating its 40th year in business, WCCHC proudly employees 540 employees who span the main center in Waianae and four satellite clinics in surrounding areas, including Kapolei and Waipahu.
While the health center has grown tremendously, it has always kept the founding vision at heart: provide health care for people who need it. In 2010 alone, WCCHC served nearly 29,000 patients, with 67 percent at or below the federal poverty level. “As the Health Center was developed by the community, for the community, that relationship is of utmost importance and is demonstrated by our board of directors, the majority of whom are from the community,” Bettini says. Besides the community, partnerships have been essential in providing the support to expand services, construct new buildings and address improving health outcomes.
Part of serving the community includes offering a broad array of programs in addition to its wide range of conventional primary medical and dental care. These include exercise/fitness programs utilizing a gym and walking paths, a farmers’ market in Waianae and Kapolei, a restaurant and native Hawaiian healing services. In fact, the native Hawaiian healing center was the first of its kind in the nation. WCCHC also offers a bevy of other services such as a 24-hour emergency room, adult day care, health career training including its own medical school, mental health and substance abuse treatment, nutrition counseling, transportation, and more.
WCCHC takes care of the community not only by creating a health care home and being a safety net for residents from Waianae to Kapolei, Ewa and Waipahu, but also through its career building and economic development. “We believe having meaningful employment is a key to good health,” Bettini says.
86-260 Farrington Highway
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