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Federal funding to provide telehealth services at 15 Hawaii libraries

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The Hawaii State Department of Health said today it will be bringing telehealth services to 15 libraries in under-served and rural parts of the state at the end of this year, thanks to federal funding.

The $3.7 million project is part of a partnership with the Hawaii State Public Library System and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center. Funding comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address COVID-19 health disparities as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The 15 libraries will have designated private rooms and equipment to allow for telehealth visits, and offer cellular hotspot units that can be borrowed for use at home.

The project will also train and employ high school and undergraduate college students to serve as health and digital navigators in their local libraries. As navigators, they will teach families how to use computers to find information about COVID-19 and other health concerns, and how to use telehealth services.

Starting next year, mobile clinic vans will also be set up in the library parking lots to allow individuals and families to receive in-person and telehealth services. The customized vans arrive next year, and will rotate among the 15 libraries on each island, officials said. They will also be deployed to community sites or a patient’s home, when necessary.

“This collaboration is a unique opportunity to help Hawaii families in underserved communities move towards health and digital equity,” said Sylvia Mann, DOH’s Genomics Section Supervisor, in a news release.

The 15 state libraries participating are: Lanai, Molokai, Hana, Kihei, Waimea, Princeville, Hanapepe, Pahoa, North Kohala, Hilo, Waianae, Kahuku, Waimanalo, Wahiawa, and Waipahu.

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