Attendees will have several chances to learn about and give back to the Hawaiian community before and during this year’s annual meeting.
Representatives from the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (WCCHC), Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation, and Kōkua Kalihi Valley (KKV) will be speaking during CHEST 2023, and attendees will be able to contribute to their exceptional grassroots work during special events as part of the CHEST Community Connections initiative.
“CHEST Community Connections is a new venture designed with an intentional focus on meaningful engagement with local communities at the site of our annual meeting,” said CHEST Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, Elizabeth J. Stigler, PhD. “Being part of the CHEST member community means operating with integrity and being an informed advocate for others, including colleagues who live and work in Hawaiʻi.”
On Saturday, October 7, from 8 am to 12 pm HST, CHEST and WCCHC will partner to host a table focused on pediatric and youth asthma awareness and prevention at the Waiʻanae Farmers’ Market, 86-120 Farrington Hwy, Waiʻanae. They’ll also be distributing much-needed medical supplies.
All CHEST 2023 attendees who are in town can stop by to get to know WCCHC staff and learn about their mission. The nonprofit was created to address health disparities, improve population health, and reduce health inequities caused by financial and cultural barriers. Since 2018, the WCCHC’s Keiki Produce Prescription (KPRx) program has provided local children with vouchers for free fruits, vegetables, and poi from local farmers’ markets as an innovative solution to reduce food insecurity and childhood obesity.
“Waiʻanae is considered a ‘food desert,’ with few grocery stores and limited healthy food options,” said WCCHC Community Wellness Manager, Cherese Shelton. “Fruits and vegetables are more expensive than candy or sugary beverages, so we’re trying to make healthy and local produce more accessible to those in the community through food access and food-as-medicine programs.”
CHEST is also working with Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation to participate in events for Honolulu Pride Month, which is celebrated in October. During CHEST 2023, representatives from the foundation, which was established to support, empower, educate, and unify the LGBTQ+ community in Hawaiʻi, will be discussing the medical disparities that affect those individuals.
“We are at a disparity for medical providers throughout the islands,” said Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation Board Secretary, Rick Ramirez, DNP, APRN. “For instance, on Maui, there are no geriatricians and only one or two cardiologists. When patients require specialists for their care, they often have to take a plane to Oʻahu or somewhere else for medical services.”
The LGBTQ+ community still regularly deals with discriminatory or outdated care methods, Ramirez added. Only one provider provides gender-affirming care on the Hawaiian Islands.
The third community group at CHEST 2023 will be KKV, a 50-year-old medical and dental service in Oʻahu. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, KKV staff called community members to assess people’s health and provide assistance to those in need. They discovered that while most people were healthy, many struggled with food insecurity. In response, the organization created a program called Hui Hoaka and started delivering fresh food to patients in need.
“We quickly realized that this was about more than just food delivery,” said KKV Research Coordinator, Megan Kiyomi Inada, DrPH, MPH, BS. “We were building relationships with people who felt deeply isolated. When we called, many people would start crying and say, ‘Oh gosh, I thought I would be forgotten. Thank you so much for reaching out.’”
All three organizations go above and beyond to make a public health impact within their communities, and CHEST is proud to have them as honored guests and partners. Attendees are encouraged to visit with their representatives at the Experience CHEST booth during Exhibit Hall hours.