Hawai'i State News

School Based Health Centers expand coverage to Kalaniana’ole Elementary and Intermediate and Konawaena Middle and High School

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Hawai’i Island Community Health Center is expanding its School Based Health Centers program providing care to families with school age children to new sites at Kalaniana’ole Elementary, Kalaniana’ole Intermediate on the east side and Konawaena Middle and Konawaena High School on the west side of the island.

Hawai’i Island Community Health Center inaugurated School Based Health Centers at Honaunau Elementary, and Kealakehe Elementary and Intermediate Schools in 2022. To date, over 1,700 students are registered for care at these sites.

The School Based Health Centers provide much needed services to families, including those with barriers to care: parents who are working multiple jobs, are underinsured or low income, families who speak English as a second language or for those who are newly arrived to this country.

The largest trend that Hawai’i Island Community Health Center staff is seeing is that many of the students they serve don’t have a primary care physician and often have gone more than a year without a well-visit or a check up.

“Parents are so busy these days. It’s our hope that the convenience of a health center at school will reduce students time away from school and parents time away from work,” said Hawai’i Island Community Health Center CEO Richard Taaffe. “Well child exams, acute care visits, behavioral health care and dental services directly in these rural schools on Hawai’i Island give young people equal access to quality health care early in their lives, when the impact of a healthy start is so profound for their lifelong health and wellness”


Hawai’i Island Community Health Center’s School Based Health Centers provide primary care services including well child exams, vaccinations, sports physicals, acute care visits (sick visits, injuries etc.), chronic care visits (asthma, ADHD, allergy shots etc.) and behavior health care.

“We strive to take a patient/student approach grounded in Evidence Based Practice. We recognize that interventions are not a one size fits all and adjust our practice to meet the specific needs of the students while keeping in mind the impact of trauma and social determinants of health may have on the students we provide care for,” said Pediatric Behavior Health Provider Linda Sosa-Lowry.

Dental services will also be added in the coming months to these school based health centers.

“Hawai‘i’s children have some of the highest rates of dental cavities and the lowest dental wellness in the nation. Dental health has a major impact on overall wellness and medical health. Students can’t learn if their teeth are hurting,” said Taaffe.


School-based patient navigators are also available as a resource for families, helping them to determine their needs, make appointments, connect with outside resources and assistance, apply for health insurance and more. Patient navigators help with the challenges families face beyond the appointment, like following up on referrals and test results, explaining a new diagnosis or dietary change recommendation, connecting with resources for food or housing, applying for transportation assistance and sometimes, simply being available to listen.

How School Based Health Centers Works

Any student with a signed consent form may be seen in the School Based Health Center at the school that they attend. Signing up for school based health care at schools is optional and not mandatory. If a child is feeling unwell and needs to be seen, but the family has not yet opted in, the guardian may also approve care by the phone for a single visit.

Each School Based Health Center is staffed with a medical team including a primary care provider. In addition to primary care, campus health centers have access to behavioral health psychologists, and pediatric dental teams. Operating hours vary by each school location and the needs of the students there.


In the next phase of operation, school staff including teachers, counselors, bus drivers, janitorial and kitchen staff will also be eligible to receive primary health care services.

Hawai’i Island Community Health Center continues to explore options with the State Department of Education in hopes of expanding School Based Health Centers to other Hawai’i Island school locations in 2024.

Visit www.HICommunityHealthCenter.org for more information or call 808-333-3600 for East side and 808-326-5629 for West side information.

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