MEDEX Northwest Graduates First Class From Kona Campus
After being delayed for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, MEDEX Northwest hosted on Aug. 20 a grand opening ceremony for its Kona campus and celebrated its first graduating class from the first physician assistant education program in the state.
“The idea — the dream, really — of establishing a MEDEX Northwest site in the state of Hawai‘i stretches back years,” Terry Scott, MEDEX Northwest program director, said in a press release. “Bringing that dream to fruition has involved the concerted efforts of so many good folks throughout the state, and the hard work of dedicated and wonderful people in the Kona area and beyond. We are just so thrilled to be able to safely celebrate with our students, faculty, community leaders and area health care advocates, not only the graduating class, but the grand opening of the campus as well. Remember that while COVID-19 restrictions didn’t stop our educational operations, it did set this opening celebration back two years! MEDEX Kona is a part of the community now, and that, along with our graduates, is worth celebrating.”
The 17 graduating students each received a master of clinical health services degree.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green was the keynote speaker. Green’s voice was instrumental in support of the early efforts by University of Washington School of Medicine and MEDEX to establish a campus in Hawai’i, and he has remained a steadfast supporter.
MEDEX Northwest, established in 1969 at the University of Washington in Seattle, follows a long-standing mission to educate health care providers who will practice primary care in medically underserved urban and rural areas throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. In 2020, MEDEX added the Kona campus to its existing campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Anchorage, expanding its mission to support communities in need of improved access to quality health care throughout the Big Island and Hawai‘i.
Following the graduation ceremony, the faculty, and staff of MEDEX Kona provided refreshments and hosted tours of the campus, located at 81-6350 Māmalahoa Highway in Kealakekua. Classrooms feature state-of-the art learning facilities and support spaces, such as patient encounter rooms, clinical lab simulation spaces and conference rooms, for digital and in-person instruction, lectures and workshops.
“Besides having a great set up for in-person learning here, we are also wired to reach practitioners, preceptors and health care experts across the island and the state, and to connect with our colleagues and classmates in the other four MEDEX campus locations on the mainland,” Kaidden Kelly, MEDEX Kona campus coordinator, said in the press release. “We have an interactive space in the fullest sense of the word and look forward to having a chance to show it off to the community.”
The day’s activities culminated with a grand opening ceremony during which guests enjoyed music and conversation, brief presentations from MEDEX Northwest leadership and other dignitaries and food and entertainment provided by the Island Breeze Lū‘au.
The graduation and grand opening ceremonies took place at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona.