HONOLULU — More than 900 Kaiser Permanente Hawaii physicians, staff, family members and community partners volunteered with eight nonprofits across the state today, taking part in a company-wide Martin Luther King Jr. Day tradition known as the Kaiser Permanente Annual Day of Service – Hosted by Hawaii Permanente Medical Group.
“We’re proud to bring together hundreds of our physicians, providers, and staff — as well as their family and friends — to help restore ahupuaa with these important community organizations across the state,” said Geoffrey Sewell, MD, FACP, president and executive medical director of Hawaii Permanente Medical Group. “Every year we add more community partners and ahupuaa to this effort, because we know as doctors that healthier communities lead to healthier homes and healthier people.”
On the Leeward side of Oahu, Kaiser Permanente participants volunteered at Kaala Farm Cultural Learning Center in Waianae, located at the base of Mauna Kaala, the oldest and tallest mountain on the island. Volunteers planted dry-land taro, rebuilt embankments for loi patches, and removed overgrown grass, weeds and brush from the loi. This marks the fourth year Kaiser Permanente has partnered with Kaala Cultural Learning Center.
For the sixth straight year, Kaiser Permanente partnered with Papahana Kuaola, Kakoo Oiwi and Paepae o Heeia, three nonprofits located within Heeia ahupuaa in Kaneohe, to complete restoration work at three sites: mountain, wetlands and ocean. Volunteers assisted with rebuilding loi, planting native species and fruit trees, removing invasive weeds and building a rock wall around the 800-year-old Heeia fishpond.
On Maui, physicians and staff volunteered at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting Maui’s native plants and cultural heritage. They prepared building materials for the construction of a traditional Hawaiian hale (home), spread mulch, replanted sugarcane and other plants, and completed other landscaping duties.
For the first time, physicians and staff from Kaiser Permanente’s Hawaii Island facilities volunteered at Kamokuna, a coastal environment located in Hilo. They participated in coastal restoration, removed invasive plant species and gathered rocks to restore Haleolono Fishpond. Additional Hawaii Island volunteers gathered at Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve in North Kona, a unique dryland environment home to nesting nene (Hawaiian geese) and native species. The volunteers planted native plants, watered, cleared grass and vegetation and built trails. They also prepared lava rock for native plant species used for seed stock and community functions such as Merrie Monarch.
Kaiser Permanente physicians and staff from the Lihue Clinic partnered with the Waipa Foundation to volunteer at Waipa ahupuaa on the north shore of Kauai. They removed invasive weeds and roots from loi and from the banks of Waipa Stream.
“I’m grateful to our employees for generously giving their time on a day off to serve their community,” said Bill Caswell, interim president, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, Hawaii Region. “Thanks to them we had another wonderful turnout, with more than 900 volunteers on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island and Kauai working to protect and restore our beautiful environment.”
The company-wide day of service is part of a nationwide effort by Kaiser Permanente to honor the legacy of Dr. King. Physicians and staff in Kaiser Permanente’s seven regions gather for a “day on, not a day off” of service and outreach in the communities they care for every day.
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in Hawaii in 1958, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente Hawaii is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, community health, and providing patient-centered total health for the people and communities of Hawaii.