Puna Community Medical Center Partnering with Hilo Medical Center

July 2, 2017, 2:00 PM HST
* Updated July 2, 12:11 PM
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Photo courtesy of PCMC.

Puna Community Medical Center (PCMC) and Hilo Medical have established a Memorandum of Understanding to improve health and urgent care services to Pāhoa residents.

Through the newly announced partnership–established by PCMCʻs Board of Directors during their June board meeting–Hilo Medical Center will provide healthcare expertise and financial support to the non-profit, walk-in clinic located at Pāhoa Marketplace.

“Members of the Puna Community Medical Center board initiated internal discussions last summer exploring what could be done to stabilize and expand medical services in an otherwise underserved community,” said PCMC Board Chair Ralph Boyea. “PCMC provides excellent urgent care services, yet the need for our community is larger than our present capacity. As our dialogue and due diligence progressed over a period of about six months, it became evident that an affiliation with Hilo Medical Center could be a win-win.”

In fiscal year 2015, 31 percent of Hilo Medical Center’s emergency department visits including patients living in Puna, according to a joint release by PCMC and Hilo Medical Center.

“When we dove deep into the numbers, we identified 4,671 of these emergency department patients who were from Puna and had minor health issues that could have been cared for adequately at PCMC,” said Dr. Daniel Belcher, East Hawai‘i Regional Board chair. “The East Hawai‘i Regional Board agreed that sustaining healthcare services in Puna is a regional priority. Encouraging the flow of patients with minor health issues to nearby local providers will appeal to Puna residents, and the resulting decrease in lower level ER visits will increase efficiency at Hilo Medical Center’s Emergency Room.”


“Stabilizing PCMC’s financial health and growing healthcare services and providers in Puna is vital for community wellbeing,” said Dan Brinkman, East Hawaii Regional CEO of Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation. “Hilo Medical Center will be working together with the Puna community, obtaining the input of community leaders and our elected officials so as to better expand and advance Puna’s healthcare services. This is a challenge that will take creativity and endurance, and it aligns with our mission of providing safety net healthcare services to East Hawai‘i.”


PCMC, which opened in 2009, will retain its employees and continue providing urgent care services as usual while organizational changes associated with the partnership take place in July.

“We are confident that the healthcare future for Puna residents is improving and our hope is that we can expand both emergency services and primary care,” said Boyea. “Our affiliation is a great opportunity to work with an established healthcare organization while still retaining our unique Puna identity.”

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