HAWAIʻI STATE RURAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION
Because most of the state’s population reside in its central urban areas, resources and infrastructure that ensure equity for the more than 400,000 residents living in Hawai‘i’s rural communities is often lagging or nonexistent. Rates of poverty in rural communities are higher, and economic opportunities are lower. Access to primary and specialty care needs are greater, but the total number of health care providers and specialists per capita in rural communities is fewer.
HSRHA is a principal advocate for all of our rural communities. The challenges we face in addressing health inequities, recruiting and training health care workers, and improving access to care, are daunting.
WHAT WE DO
The Hawai‘i State Rural Health Association represents the interests of many rural communities, often with different needs. We present a unified voice to policymakers and the public for stronger, more effective advocacy.
Throughout the year, we work to inform and educate on issues of urgency to rural communities. We also actively participate in health care work groups and partnerships to develop sustainable solutions to challenges facing our health care system.
Finally, we work to build effective grassroots advocacy with organizations like yours that work to better their communities. Through our advocacy, partnerships, and programs, we create meaningful change and improve lives throughout our state.
Ensuring health equity for the nearly half million residents who reside in rural communities in Hawai‘i is an ongoing and central activity of HSRHA and its partners. The Rural Health and Community Caucus’ primary role is ensuring that policymakers and government officials at the county, state, and federal levels are briefed and educated on the unique challenges facing our rural communities. This helps to ensure that health planning and policy includes the voice of grassroots, rural patients, providers, and community groups.
In conjunction with its work in the Rural Health and Community Caucus, HSRHA regularly provides briefings and testimony regarding rural health issues that are before the Hawai‘i State Legislature. By presenting a collective voice that include rural patients, providers, and community groups, HSRHA provides an invaluable service to policymakers and government agencies as they tackle statewide health care issues. Our legislative and educational efforts are also bolstered by the many partnerships we sustain with our health care and community partners.
HSHRA is an integral partner in supporting the Hawai‘i Healthcare Workforce Summit, the annual gathering that brings hundreds of professionals together to assess and strategize multilateral solutions for our state’s workforce shortages.
In addition to sponsoring and leading a specific subject matter track at the conference, HSRHA’s members are essential panel participants who emphasize how these workforce issues affect patient care, provider burnout, and specialty services. The summit is one of the core advocacy and education activities for the Association, and a prime opportunity for our members to strengthen their networks.
EDUCATION & TRAININGS
HSRHA continually provides a wide variety of education and training opportunities through its partner projects like ECHO Hawai‘i and Project HOPE, as well as periodic remote learning sessions on rural health challenges and policy. These free services are just one more way that the Association works to support health care professionals and organizations stay current.
Subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on social media, or better yet join HSRHA to participate in these ongoing education sessions.
Barry Taniguchi Health Professions Subsidy Program
A legacy program created to support and develop access to high quality healthcare close to home instead of needing to fly off island for basic care and follow up healthcare services. Funding is available to all health professionals practicing in rural areas across Hawaii. The idea is to create a neighbor island network that can robustly meet the access to care needs of our most vulnerable populations. Funding can be used to support training and subsidy support to health professionals in high need areas; including, but not limited to clinicians starting up a practice or joining and existing practice to support a competitive salary while the patient panel is being built. This program also provides matching funds for the Hawaii State Loan Repayment program and the Hawaii Island Access to Medical Care Fund.
HAWAI‘I OPIOID PREVENTION & EDUCATION (HOPE)
Each year, hundreds of Hawai‘i residents overdose on opioids, with thousands more suffering from misuse of these highly addictive drugs. Recognizing that with existing provider and resource shortages, the effects of this opioid crisis would disproportionately effect rural communities, HSRHA moved decisively to foster a wide-ranging partnership that includes the Departments of Health, Education, and Justice, along with health care clinics, hospitals, colleges and universities, and other associations.
Today, the Hawai‘i Opioid Prevention & Education Consortium (HOPE) includes a comprehensive array of multi-sector initiatives that leads the way in reducing the mortality of opioid overdoses and related substance use disorders. These initiatives include:
• Provider support and education network (Hawai‘i Addiction Provider Integration Network) to facilitate best practices in treating substance use disorders (SUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD)
• Compassionate support via the jail re-entry bridge program at Kaua‘i Community Corrections Center
• Teams on each island to support specific rural community needs related to substance use issues
• Expanded patient telehealth access for prevention and education via Hawaii U-Telehealth [[hawaiiutelehealth.org]], providing free online access to mental health counselors, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and psychologists.
• Dedicated provider education with the Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) Project ECHO series.