Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Senator, Health Chair to Honor Big Island Medical Professionals For Pandemic Response

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West Hawaii Community Health Center will be one of three medical teams honored this weekend. PC: WHCHC

Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, Chair of the Committee on Health, will visit the Big Island this weekend to honor and thank medical staff members of three facilities for their laudatory work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The staff for all these areas have tirelessly and selflessly served the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic despite risk to themselves and their families and working additional hours due to staff shortages and illnesses,” Keohokalole said in a news release announcing the visit. “We are grateful for their courageous work to the people on the island of Hawaii.”

The senator will meet with CEO Richard Taaffe of the West Hawai’i Community Center-Kealakehe Clinic beginning at 8:30 a.m. Friday. It’s the center’s newest facility and located on Hawaiian Home Lands.


Since the beginning of the pandemic, the clinic has administered 40,500 COVID-19 tests, 12,000 vaccinations, and helped 350 uninsured patients access temporary insurance coverage through the CARES Act.

Later that day, at 10:15 a.m., Keohokalole will visit Kona Community Hospital with Judy Donovan, its marketing and strategic planning director. The hospital has cared for over 2,000 COVID in-patients since March 2020, and since January 2021, it has administered a total of 23,517 vaccine doses.

At 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, the senator will be at North Hawai’i Community Hospital. He will be accompanied by Jacce Mikuanec, director of government relations for the Queen’s Health Systems, and hospital personnel Wayne Higaki, administrator for fund development and support services; chief medical officer Dr. James Madison, and Liana Honda, manager of Hawaiian Health Programs.


North Hawai’i Community Hospital provided outreach through its mobile vaccine clinic to communities as far as Ka‘u, and participated in the Department of Education drive to vaccinate students in Waimea, Honoka‘a, and Kohala. Through its collective efforts, the hospital has provided 30,000 vaccinations since December 2020.



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