According to the federal government’s Current Population Survey, a recent estimate of the percent of Hawai‘i’s population without health insurance indicates that nearly 120,000 persons, representing 9.6 percent of the state’s population, lacked health insurance in 2005. The current economic slump, combined with rising unemployment rates, has created an even greater financial hardship for Hawai‘i’s families—and it is likely that the number of uninsured is significantly higher in 2009.
This trend is a major concern for many healthcare providers, as uninsured patients often do not seek medical attention for minor ailments or at the first sign of a problem, although treating or controlling it can be relatively easy and inexpensive.
But one group of doctors is extending a helping—and healing—hand to Maui’s uninsured. On Saturday, Aug. 29, the Kihei-Wailea Medical Center will open its doors to the public, offering a range of diagnostic and treatment services—free of charge. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the center will host its first screening and wellness clinic in a partnership with Clinical Laboratories and Maui Diagnostic Imaging (MDI). There is no charge to participate, and attendees do not need to be current or former patients of Kihei-Wailea Medical Center; however, clinic organizers encourage all attendees to bring any current medications, medical records and a valid ID.
(Left to right) Dr. Marcus Griffin, Maile Miller, Shelly Sinkinger and Desiree Kekiwi will participate in the Kīhei-Wailea Medical Center’s free screening clinic on Saturday, Aug. 29.
The Kihei-Wailea Medical Center Wellness Clinic will offer a variety of important—and potentially lifesaving—diagnostic tests donated by Clinical Laboratories and MDI. As wellness emphasizes preventative treatment, the staff of volunteers will also monitor blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels, and screen for diabetes and other conditions.
The clinic was created by Kihei-Wailea Medical Center’s Dr. Marcus Griffin, a primary care physician who underwent a kidney transplant in February. The experience of transitioning from doctor to patient gave him a new perspective on healthcare, he said. “I really want to reach out to others,” he said. “So many are losing insurance due to economic conditions and job loss… this is our way of giving back to the community.”
This is a dream come true, he said. “For one day, we will open our days to anyone who is uninsured, and we plan on seeing as many patients as possible.” While it is free and open to the public, Dr. Griffin reiterated that the wellness clinic was created to help Maui County’s uninsured. “We ask that those with health insurance keep in mind that this event is for those who truly need healthcare,” he said.
Dr. Griffin will be assisted by a staff of physicians, nurses and administrators, all of whom eagerly volunteered to donate their services during the all-day clinic. “I didn’t have to twist their arms,” he said. “They wanted to do this.”
While the clinic will take place during normal business hours, Dr. Griffin said regular patients can still use the center. Clinic participants will be seen on a first-come, first-serve basis, and will receive follow-up instructions and recommendations, in addition to available samples and resources, if applicable.
“This clinic gives me an opportunity to use my skills to help others,” he said. “I have the resources and time, so why not do it?” Most importantly, Dr. Griffin said, the clinic will give the uninsured an opportunity to take control of their health—before it’s too late. “Don’t put these things off,” he said. “We’ll do the best we can to help… I think this is a good place to start.”
Kihei-Wailea Medical Center, the largest private clinic on Maui, is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The center is located at 221 Pi‘ikea Ave., #A, within the Pi‘ilani Village Shopping Center in Kihei. For more information, contact Joel Krause at (808) 874-8100.