5 Things Hawaii: Implications of poverty, Workforce solutions, Mental health


Emily Boerger


We are less than one week out from our 2022 Hawaii State of Reform Health Policy Conference. The conference will feature 3 keynotes, 16 breakout sessions, and close to 60 curated speakers who will talk through some of the most pressing and impactful issues facing Hawaii’s health care system.

In light of increasing infections due to the Omicron variant, we have decided to move the conference to a digital platform. As you know, over the past 19 months we’ve gotten pretty good at hosting virtual events! While we would love to see you in person, we don’t feel now is the time to test everyone’s luck.

With that in mind, for this edition of “5 Things We’re Watching” we feature a handful of the upcoming sessions that we’re looking forward to hosting. We’d love to have you join us!

Emily Boerger
State of Reform


1. The renewed health equity imperative

It’s clear that race, gender, and health status are all creating variation in health outcomes. So, how are disparities highlighting the work we have left to create an equitable health system? Our “The renewed health equity imperative” panel next week will explore health equity in Hawaii and discuss strategies to bring about greater equity in how we address social factors in health.

This panel of thought leaders will include Kealoha Fox, Ph.D., senior manager of social health integration at AlohaCare, CJ Johnson, COVID-19 outreach & public health education specialist at the Hawaii Dept. of Health, and Diane Paloma, Ph.D., president & CEO of Hawaii Dental Service.


2. The implications of poverty

The implications of poverty are well known, but doing something to employ that knowledge in a meaningful and sustainable way is easier said than done. This breakout session will focus on the impact of poverty on our communities, the work we can improve upon, and the path ahead.

Joining us on our “The implications of poverty” panel will be Lisa Kimura, vice president of community impact at Aloha United Way, Ashley Shearer, director of care coordination, UM & CDI at Queen’s Medical Center, and Jack Barile, Ph.D., interim director of the Social Science Research Institute.


3. Collaborations that drive workforce solutions across silos

The pandemic has stressed the health care workforce across all sectors. Workers are experiencing burnout and employers are scrambling to find ways to retain employees. During our “Collaborations that drive workforce solutions across silos” panel, four experts will share how health care organizations and businesses are collaborating and coordinating in new and innovative ways to support the workforce.

Keala Peters, executive vice president of education & workforce development, and executive director of sector partnerships at the Chamber of Commerce, and Rachael Aquino, Ph.D., president of Hawaii Workforce Pipeline, will join a multi-perspective panel on this important topic. Janna Hoshide, senior director of workforce development at the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, and Laura Reichhardt, director of the Hawaii State Center for Nursing, will also join the conversation.

4. Mental health and our kids: From social media to COVID

The U.S. surgeon general recently released an advisory warning of the “devastating” mental health challenges facing young people. From the impacts of social media to COVID, our children face higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. This panel will discuss navigating life in the 21st century and what can be done to support young people as they navigate this “new normal.”

Panelists will include Caroline Carney, M.D., chief medical officer at Magellan Health, Will Scruggs, M.D., president of Hawaii ACEP, Kurt Humphrey, medical director at the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Division in the Department of Health, and Justina Acevedo-Cross, program director of community grantmaking and initiatives at the Hawaii Community Foundation. Be sure to bring your questions to what will be a particularly forward-looking conversation.

5. Building a community infrastructure for health

Building the right community infrastructure to address Hawaii’s unique ecosystem can be both exciting and challenging. At the conference next week, these stakeholders will share how they’ve developed partnerships that address culturally appropriate models of care delivery and establish cross-silo relationships.

Our “Building a community infrastructure for health” panel will bring together Melissa Sherry, Ph.D., vice president of social care integration at Unite Us, Aimee Grace, M.D., director of the Office of Strategic Health Initiatives at the University of Hawai’i System, Helen Turner, Ph.D., vice president for strategy and innovation at Chaminade University, and Kamuela Enos, director of the UH System Office of Indigenous Innovation.