Army of volunteers assembled to staff free health clinic for Hawaii’s newly uninsured

Volunteer health workers put compassion into action at new free clinic

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the hundreds of thousands of people out of work in Hawaii, health insurance has also become a casualty to the COVID-19 crisis.

But a new pop-up clinic could help bridge the gap until people get back to work.

Inside the Kalihi Medical Building, you’ll find compassion in action.

On Thursday, Dr. Jim Ireland showed HNN around what’s been dubbed the Aloha Free Clinic. “The landlord here at the building, because it was empty, allowed us to rent it at a reduced rate," he said.

Starting June 1, Ireland alongside an army of volunteers will begin donating their time treating patients who’ve lost their insurance and can’t afford to see a doctor.

“We’re looking to help those who have not yet gotten Medicaid or can’t get Medicaid to cover them. At least for the summer, until they can get back to work,” said Ireland.

The plan is to provide basic healthcare services to people on Oahu and beyond.

“Things like asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart problems,” Ireland said.

In addition to in-person visits, the free clinic plans to offer tele-medicine so providers can connect with patients living on neighbor islands.

“We hope to be able to do something special for people who are going through a tough time,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who is also an emergency room doctor.

He rallied his medical colleagues and private donors to cover the cost of care, and said no government money is being spent on the project.

“Our personnel resources will come from the Hawaii Health Corps and Hawaii Pacific University,” he said.

"We have lots of people stepping forward wanting to donate their time. We had one individual step up today and is going to give us $15,000 to pay the rent for three months.”

Ireland says to start, the free clinic will be open five days a week. But those hours could be expanded if there’s additional support.

Providers have committed to running the clinic through the end of August.

“Ideally we want to help as many people as we can," Ireland said.

If you’re a health care provider who’d like to volunteer or a patient who needs to set up an appointment, you can email alohafreeclinic@gmail.com.

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