Molokai, Hawaii – Underserved rotation
Kathryn Albert, PA-S
MEDEX Class 7
The island of Molokai. This is “old Hawaii.” An island of about 8000 people, the majority Native Hawaiians. This is a place that is unlike the other islands. There are no traffic lights, or big fancy hotels. No chain restaurants or box stores. Feral chickens and deer roam the island, and the “ohana” runs strong throughout this culture. This is also a place where people who suffered from leprosy, otherwise known as Hansen’s disease were banished to, and kept isolated until they passed. The island has endured tragedies and experienced devastation, but is rich with the people and their traditions, who love and respect the land and their home.
This is the place I was fortunate enough to visit and work during my underserved rotation in February.
On the island there is one small hospital, a community health center, and outpatient clinic shared by several providers. The VA Pacific Islands Health Care System leases space in the outpatient clinic to serve the Veterans residing on Molokai. This is a fairly new addition to the community. Previously, Veterans had to travel to other larger, better equipped facilities on the other islands to receive care, which for many presented certain challenges. The physician who treats these patients is a former PA, who in her prime, traveled extensively to remote villages in rural Alaska providing medical services to many communities. She later returned to school, became a physician, and now practices in internal medicine. READ MORE