The story of the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center is rooted in the power of community action & the commitment & vision of its members

1949 - 1970: Before the Health Center

The story begins in 1949 when the Waianae Sugar Mill, whose dispensary provided much of the health care on the Waianae Coast, closed its doors. The 6,000 residents of the area were forced to travel to Honolulu to see a doctor ~ a journey that took one and a half hours each way.

In 1966, based on state statistics that identified the Waianae Coast as having a poor health and disease profile and a high infant mortality rate, concerned residents formed a Health Task Force to plan for better health services and more doctors to meet the needs of the growing population, estimated at 18,000 people.

Starting in 1968, as part of the federal Model Cities area designation, the Waianae Health Task Force persevered, and with assistance from the University of Hawaii School of Medicine, developed a Program Concept that identified its priorities for the community ~ a comprehensive health center, home health care, and a hospital.

From this concept, the Waianae Health Task Force formed the Waianae District Comprehensive Health and Hospital Board, Incorporated., a policy-making body for the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.

In 1970, a public election was held for the first Board of Directors of the Health Center.

1972 – 1974: Getting Established

The current Health Center site was acquired through the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Ground was broken in 1972 to build the first phase of the Health Center here at the main campus site. At the same time, and until the main campus clinic was completed, the Health Center provided services at an off-site location in Waianae. With the Waianae Coast identified as a medically underserved area under federal guidelines, the Health Center was designated, and continues to operate, as a federally funded community health center whose intent is to serve patients regardless of their ability to pay.

By 1974, the initial 6 employees expanded to a staff of 33.

1975 - 1999: Continuous Growth to Meet the Needs of the Community

Identified as a vital service for the community, the Emergency Room was established in 1975. With an increase in funding support, the Emergency Room was able to keep its operation open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, starting in 1985.

Radiology services were added in 1976. Radiology as well as laboratory services are open 24 hours a day to support clinic and emergency room patients.

The federal W.I.C. (Women, Infant and Children’s) Program was established onsite in 1978 growing to be the largest W.I.C. provider in the state.

Adult Day Care services were started in 1987. Since then, the Health Center has opened additional sites in other areas of Oahu.

For five years, starting in 1987, the Health Center implemented Pacific Regional Training activities with Palau, Guam, Pohnpei, the Marshall Islands, and Saipan, providing technical assistance in establishing and/or upgrading community health centers.

A Health Career Scholarship program was instituted in 1990 through generous donations initially provided by Chevron USA. In 2006, it was renamed the Chuck Wothke Scholarship. Chuck was one of the founder’s of the Health Center, a long-time board member and an advocate for health care and training opportunities for community residents.

Patient transportation, an important service to help patients keep their appointments to take care of their health, was initiated in 1990 with one van and has since grown to a fleet of three large and several small vans.

The Health Center’s first satellite clinic opened in Nanakuli in 1991 and has since been expanded through generous funding from the James and Abigail Campbell Foundation.

In 1992, the Waianae Health Academy (Ola Loa Ka Na’auao) was realized with the signing of a cooperative agreement between Kapiolani Community College, Leeward Community College, and the Health Center. The intent of the Academy is to provide educational opportunities to address the unemployment and marginal employment issues that plague many members of the community. The focus is primarily on health careerrelated courses. Additional partnerships now also include Windward Community College who is providing a landscaping course on-site. The Health Academy has served or graduated over 1,000 students.

Starting in 1993, Hawaiian Dredging and Construction Company adopted the Health Center, donating equipment, labor, and supplies for volunteer projects. Much of the clearing of land, the paving of parking lots, and many other projects on this land, are a result of their hard work and generous volunteer spirit ~ that continues on an annual basis.

In 1994, the Health Center opened its second satellite clinic in Waianae town ~ now called the Waiola Clinic.

In partnership with the state Department of Health, the Health Center assumed operation of the Rural Oahu Family Planning Clinic in Waipahu in 1996. The clinic has since expanded and moved to a new location in the Filipino Community Center (Fil-Com) and has been renamed the Waipahu Family Health Center.

The Waianae Rotary Club awarded the Health Center as Employer of the Year in 1997.

2000 - Present: Continuing the mission

In 2003, the Health Center became the first community health center in the state of Hawaii to implement an electronic medical record system and has since provided mentorship to other health centers in establishing their systems.

The Health Center won the 2004 Leadership Award for Non-Profit Corporations in Hawaii. The award, presented by Pacific Business News, recognized the Health Center for maintaining a positive financial position for many years by continuously increasing productivity, developing revenue generating services, initiating technological innovations and promoting community involvement.

The Health Center received federal recognition as a formal research review board in 2005 to protect and provide over-sight for community-based research. The Health Center has led its own research projects as well as participated in projects with other research institutions.

In 2005, the Health Center held at its first annual fundraising event, A Tribute to the Spirit of Community. The event was held to raise funds for its three-story medical and training building. The first event honored Senator Daniel Inouye, Stephen MacMillan (CEO of the James and Abigail Campbell Foundation), William Wilson (President of Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company) and Chuck Wothke (one of the founders of the Health Center). The 2006 event honored Aunty Agnes Cope (one of the founders of the Health Center) and Senator Daniel and Mrs. Millie Akaka. The 2007 event honored Dr. Fred Dodge (the first medical director and long-time physician at the Health Center) and Anthony Guerrero, Jr. (Health Center board member and capital campaign chairperson).

Ranked as the largest non-profit service provider in the state of Hawaii in 2006, the Health Center was also rated in the top 250 businesses in the state.

In 2006, the Health Center served 27,000 patients and employed a staff of 450.

In 2007, the Health Center was selected one of ten community health centers throughout the nation to house the new medical school program for Arizona’s A.T. Still University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. Ten medical students a year will be trained onsite after completing this first year of training in Arizona. Medical student candidates are being identified from the community with the hope they will return to practice medical care in their hometown.

A Tribute to our Donors

The fountain located adjacent to this visitor center is a tribute to those that have donated to our Center through the years. The Donor’s Fountain was designed by artist Sean Browne. The symbolism of the fountain is consistent with its theme “From Generation to Generation”. The small calabash on the top is representative of the keiki or children of the Waianae coast. The middle calabash represents our adult members and the base calabash represents our kupuna or elders. The beautiful “Spirit of Community” tribute board located beyond the fountain recognizes those that have made major contributions to our legacy and future.