A new mobile health clinic has arrived on the Big Island courtesy of Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, a Hawaii-based nonprofit dedicated to improving maternal, child and family health care.
The new Mana Mama Mobile Health Clinic offers a variety of medical care for mothers, families and women in labor, with services ranging from pregnancy care to reproductive health and family medicine.
“What we really try and do is wrap families in a really supportive network,” said Kari Willing, who serves as director of clinical services. “We help them as much as we can with our services, then try to help connect the dots in their community. We can meet your basic needs so you can start thriving again.”
The concept began two years ago when Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies started a mobile health clinic on Oahu offering similar services.
“Over these two years, we’ve always heard through our partners that there’s a need on the Big Island,” Willing said. “Most people know Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies for our social services, but what they don’t know is how we expanded into that medical arm.”
Funding for the clinic comes from state and federal grants, as well as individual and private donations.
A new office also opened in February in Kailua-Kona, with the mobile clinic designed to offer the same services at the East Hawai’i Island locations.
Equipped with four-wheel drive, the van can provide care to families in traditionally underserved areas, including Hilo, Puna, Ocean View and Kau.
“We have people who live far from health care, so this mobile van can actually go to them and meet a lot of different needs around pregnancy, reproductive health and basic family medicine for the whole family,” said Hawaii County Council Member Jennifer Kagivada . “One of the key things is closing those service gaps, especially on our island.”
Clinical services are provided by a team of professionals, including licensed midwives and lactation consultants, who come in weekly and provide prenatal, birth and postpartum care.
Nurse practitioners are also on staff to provide reproductive health education and services, including contraception, pregnancy tests, early medical abortions, along with screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
“We don’t have Planned Parenthood on this island,” Kagivada said. “So I’m extremely excited that there’s a resource here for teenagers and young adults around reproductive health.”
The van is also equipped with an examination table and seating area along with medical equipment used for vaccinations, blood tests and other primary medical services.
“It’s really out of place with any of the health care we have on the island,” Kagivada said. “It really fills a different need for things that we don’t currently see right now.”
The van also has a shower, toilet and bathing station to assist homeless people.
“This is trauma-informed care,” said Laura Acasio, a former state senator. “Being able to shower and feel safe in a space where you can get medical attention really shifts the nervous system for someone who is really struggling.”
The van has a rotating schedule of locations, but appointments can be made by visiting the website and filling out a patient intake form at www.hmhb-hawaii.org/mana-mama/ or by calling (808) 737-5805.
“Often medical care is far and away because people may not have reliable transportation or money for gas,” Acasio said. “In this case, the mobile clinic will be a one-stop shop for access by multiple families.”
Mana Mama Clinic accepts many insurance plans and encourages those interested to call and see if they are covered.
Email Grant Phillips at [email protected]