5 Things Hawaii: Sen. Roz Baker, Homelessness initiatives, Richard Bettini

A big mahalo to our readers that take time to read our stuff. We compile this monthly newsletter with a small team of reporters who pull together stories and analysis, trying to chart a new model of community, crowd-sourced and crowd-funded “solutions journalism.” Our revenue is entirely dependent on our sponsors and registrants from our conference. So, mahalo for reading and thanks for attending our annual event!


With help from Emily Boerger


1. Q&A: Sen. Roz Baker

Sen. Roz Baker is Chair of the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Heath Committee in the Hawaii State Legislature. Sen. Baker represents Senate District 6 in South and West Maui and has over 25 years of experience serving as a Maui legislator. In short, she is a lioness on Hawaii health policy.

We caught up with Sen. Baker a week after the 2019 session ended to discuss key health bills passed this year, bills that failed, health care challenges in Maui, and where the conversation is headed next in Hawaii health policy. Looking forward, Baker says she will continue working on homelessness, mental health, suicide prevention, and reproductive health.


2. Leading on the homelessness problem

Addressing homelessness continues to be a priority at all levels of government in Hawaii. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell recently released the “Oahu Resilience Strategy,” which, in part, aims to improve housing affordability on the island to reduce homelessness. Sen. Roz Baker singled out homelessness as a top issue she will be focused on in the interim the above Q&A.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who has long been an advocate for progressive homelessness solutions, continues to address the issue. He recently toured Kauai, Maui, Hawaii Island, and Molokai to see the impacts of homelessness across Hawaii. Details on his current efforts, including his 10-point plan and six-state plan to reduce chronic homelessness, are available here.

3. Report: HI ranks #1 in senior health

America’s Health Rankings’ 2019 Senior Report shows Hawaii leading the nation as the healthiest state for seniors. Hawaii leads the nation on several health measurements including: arthritis management, dental visits, low rates of obesity, preventable hospitalizations, and nursing home quality.

But, according to the report, there are some troubling individual measurements for the state. Hawaii ranks 48th in the nation for excessive drinking and 46th in the nation for rates of volunteerism. Also concerning is the rate of hospital deaths, where Hawaii ranks 44th. You can take a look at all of Hawaii’s data here.

4. Video: Richard Bettini, WCCHC

Richard Bettini is the President and CEO of Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss community engagement in addressing the social determinants of health.

“The most effective way [to address the social determinants] is not to bring experts from outside the community into the community… The key is going to be to empower communities — particularly where there’s a critical mass of low-income patients — to solicit their ideas directly.”


5. People on the move

The Queen’s Health Systems recently selected Dr. Jill Hoggard Green as their new CEO. Hoggard Green will take over the reigns from Art Ushijima when he retires in fall 2020.

Youlsau Bells took over as Interim CEO at Bay Clinic Inc. in May, following Harold Wallace’s departure. Bells previously served as Director of Development and then COO at Bay Clinic, Inc.

Janelle Saucedo began her appointment as the new chief of the DOH’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division on June 3. Saucedo recently served as the clinical manager for the Utilization Management Department at Beacon Health Options in Kapolei. And Andrew Garrett, former associate vice president of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, was recently appointed Deputy Director for the Department of Human Resources Development.