In 2002, a community meeting was convened to explore how the health care needs of Kona’s vulnerable population could be best served. At the time, the Salvation Army offered limited health care services in Kailua-Kona, but they were anxious to return to their social service foundation. They were, however, concerned about the lack of medical and behavioral health services in the area and a growing population in West Hawaii.
In 2003, a 30+ person Steering Committee, made up of concerned community members, was formed to garner interest in the development of a community health center and to take the necessary steps to make it a reality. By 2004, an application for charitable, tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) was submitted to the IRS and a permanent 15-member Board of Directors was selected. Efforts also began that year on needs assessment surveys and data collection.
West Hawaii Community Health Center entered into agreement with the Salvation Army’s Kona Community Clinic to assume that operation, opening its doors to the public in January 2005. A year later, WHCHC received its Federally Qualified Health Center status, paving the way for a cost-effective health center that would deliver quality care to the underserved and uninsured community.
Today, WHCHC is an integral part of West Hawaii providing quality, affordable health care to residents regardless of their ability to pay for services. WHCHC is addressing community challenges to expand the reach of our mission and collaborate with other community organizations who share the same vision. West Hawaii Community Health Center is working to improve the community’s access to care each day and currently offers service locations in Kailua-Kona, Kealakehe, Kealakekua, and Waikoloa.