Queen's Health System renews support of Native Hawaiian Health

New Chair celebrated at unique John A. Burns School of Medicine department

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Tina Shelton, (808) 692-0897
Communications Director
Posted: Feb 22, 2011

Dr. J. Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula
Dr. J. Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula
The vision of a better Hawai’i shared by the University of Hawai’i Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) and the diverse communities its serves was brought into sharp focus on February 11, 2011, in a moving ceremony celebrating the appointment of a new Chair of the Department of Native Hawaiian Health.
“We are the only the clinical department in a U.S. medical school with a department dedicated to an indigenous people, and we are defined by our communities,” said Dr. J. Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, the incoming Chair.
“We are a clinical department without the word ‘medicine’ in its name,” Dr. Kaholokula continued. “We understand that the health of a people requires more than medicine, it’s about the life conditions we find ourselves in…and how we feel about our lives and how we are interconnected with each other.”
UH Mānoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw noted that the Department of Native Hawaiian Health was formed in 2002, and officially established by the Board of Regents in 2003. “Since the beginning, the Queen’s Health System has nourished the program financially to the tune of a total $5 million,” said Dr. Hinshaw.
The ceremony included a special salute to Queen’s Health System, which this spring has pledged $2 million to renew its support of the department and its Imi Ho’ola Post Baccalaureate Program. The Imi Ho’ola program recruits and supports college students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds in a 12-month course that launches them into medical school at JABSOM.
“You cannot have a premier health care system or medical center without a first-class medical school,” said Dr. Naleen Andrade, an Imi Ho’ola graduate who now Chairs the Queen’s Health Systems, as well as, JABSOM’s Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Andrade led applause for Queen’s CEO Art Ushijima, who she said shared the sentiment that the state’s health care system requires a vibrant medical school.
Also honored at the ceremony was the Department of Native Hawaiian Health’s founding chair, Dr. Marjorie Mau, recently named one of the National Institute of Health’s “Faces of Biomedical Science.”  Mau is one of only 13 national researchers identified as outstanding mentors for future American scientists.
Dr. Kalani Brady was also acknowledged for his 20 months of service as interim chair of the department by JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges.  Dr. Nanette Judd, UH Mānoa’s 2010 Faculty Diversity award winner, also was recognized by Dean Hedges for her leadership in steering the Imi Ho’ola program for more than 30 years.
“Over that time, Imi Ho’ola has graduated more than 200 physicians, 40% of them Native Hawaiians,” said Dr. Jerris Hedges, JABSOM Dean. “And 60% of those Native Hawaiian physicians are working right here in the Islands serving Hawai’i’s people,” said Dr. Hedges.
Also speaking in recognition of the department was Puni Kekauoha, the Executive Director of Papakolea Community Development Corporation.  Along with Dr. Kaholokula, Ms. Kekauoha is a Co-Principal Investigator for the PILI ‘ʻʻʻohana Project, which is reducing obesity among Native Hawaiian people by partnerships with community organizations.
“The medical school partnership has opened our eyes to the importance of research,” said Ms. Kekauoha.  “There are more than 30 of us in Papakolea who are healthier right now because of the school and its research and clinical outreach, and we are grateful,” she said.