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News Release

November 28, 2012
HMSA Foundation invests in programs for a healthy community

Robyn Kuraoka
(808) 948-6826

Children from 13 schools along Oahu’s Leeward Coast will have access to free vision, retinal, hearing, and developmental screenings thanks to a $50,000 grant from the HMSA Foundation to Project Vision Hawaii. Project Vision Hawaii is an Oahu-based, nonprofit mobile screening program that provides much-needed services to remote, underserved communities across the state. Additionally, staff members educate parents about their children’s needs, potential health issues, and options for further care.

“Most of the time, people don’t go to a doctor because they don’t think anything is wrong,” said Michael Bennett, M.D., founder and president of the Retina Institute of Hawaii and creator of Project Vision Hawaii. “We’re trying to alter that way of thinking and encourage people to seek education and preventive care.”

“Early detection and preventive care saves millions of dollars each year,” said Mark Forman, HMSA Foundation executive administrator. “But the real reward is when a simple screening can save a child’s vision.” More than 2,500 people receive vision screenings through Project Vision each year. Of those, at least 40 percent were found to have abnormalities in at least one eye.

The HMSA Foundation awarded $234,568 in grants to nine local health programs and community organizations in the third quarter of this year. The HMSA Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable foundation that supports efforts across the state to improve the health of Hawaii’s people.

It was founded in Hawaii in 1986 as a public foundation with the goal of stimulating research aimed at some of the pressing issues that confronted Hawaii’s health care industry. In 1997, the Foundation was converted to a private foundation to allow for larger contributions from donors, such as HMSA.

The mission of the HMSA Foundation is to extend HMSA’s commitment to provide community access to cost-effective health care services, promote health, provide health education and relevant research, and improve social welfare in Hawaii.

Health plan dues from HMSA members and employer groups are not used to fund Foundation grants. Foundation grants are funded with annual investment income earned on its original endowment. For more information on the HMSA Foundation, please visit

HMSA Foundation grants awarded in the third quarter included:

  • ‘Ahahui o na Kauka, Association of Native Hawaiian Physicians – The Association’s ‘Ai Pono, Ola Pono program, which translates to Eat Healthy, Live Healthy, strengthens the connection between healthy local food systems and improved health and wellness outcomes for clinicians. For three-and-a-half days, participants immersed themselves in a continuing medical education program using established curriculum developed by the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana. This grant supported a conference that took place in July 2012 on Maui and Kahoolawe. Grant amount – $5,000.
  • American Diabetes Association – The ADA’s 10th Annual Professional Education Symposium, “Our Kupuna: Diabetes Issues in the Elderly,” brought health care professionals up to date with the latest information on diabetes. The symposium took place on October 13, 2012. This grant helped industry professionals gain insight into which techniques and methods of care consistently show superior results. Grant amount – $5,000.
  • Maui AIDS Foundation – Residents of Maui County will continue to have access to free and anonymous HIV/HCV rapid testing due to this grant. The money will also help the Maui AIDS Foundation provide education and counseling to residents in remote areas, specifically Hana and Molokai. Grant amount – $10,000.
  • Papa Ola Lokahi – The Access to Specialized Health Care program removes the obstacles Neighbor Island residents often face when traveling to Oahu for specialized care. This grant will help to provide airfare, transportation, referrals, and services such as psychological and social guidance. Papa Ola Lokahi works with community health centers to reach as many people as possible. The organization primarily serves Native Hawaiians, but does not deny service to anyone in need. Grant amount – $39,568.
  • Planned Parenthood of Hawaii – Planned Parenthood is expanding its services on Kauai by growing its present clinic into a full-time, full-service facility. This grant will help medically underserved teens and low-income individuals obtain free or low-cost family planning services. Grant amount – $50,000.
  • Project Vision Hawaii – This mobile screening program provides vision, retinal, hearing, and developmental screenings across the state through its partnerships with Learning Disabilities Association of Hawaii, Read Aloud America, and the Lions Club International-District 50. This grant will subsidize screenings for students in 13 schools on Oahu’s Leeward Coast. It will also help parents learn about their children’s needs, potential health issues, and options for further care. Grant amount – $50,000.
  • University of Hawai‘i, Kapi‘olani Community College – The Kupuna Education Center at Kapi‘olani Community College provides training and continuing education programs for older adults, family caregivers, and paraprofessionals. This grant will support the Kupuna Adult Care Home project by providing 23 online courses that will be accessible throughout the state, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Direct care workers will learn how to provide high-quality care for an increasingly frail population of seniors and disabled adults. Grant amount – $10,000.
  • Women In Need – The primary mission of this unique nonprofit organization is to help mothers and fathers get off drugs, off the streets, and out of abusive relationships so they can parent their children and lead stable, fulfilling lives. This grant will fund a substance abuse relapse support system to help women on Kauai and Oahu. They’ll gain confidence in managing overwhelming situations without resorting to old behaviors, thus improving their chances for successful recovery. Grant amount – $15,000.
  • YMCA of Honolulu – The YMCA’s Nutrition Exercise Weight (N.E.W.) Management Kids program addresses Hawaii’s childhood obesity crisis. The YMCA will work with Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children to deliver an effective curriculum to manage weight and decrease medical complications for severely obese children. Grant amount – $50,000.

“We know our communities in Hawaii are facing increasingly critical social and health issues such as childhood obesity,” said Michael Broderick, president and CEO of the YMCA of Honolulu. “As part of our healthy living and youth development focus, finding innovative and collaborative ways to reduce and prevent childhood obesity is a top priority. Our N.E.W. Kids program is a great example of the power of collaboration and commitment from such wonderful partners as Kapi‘olani Medical Center and HMSA. And we are excited about the potential this program has to help our local families win the battle against childhood obesity and gain a healthier future.”