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UHA Donates $25K to Maui’s Mālama I Ke Ola to Support New OB-GYN Position After Closure of Island’s Only Obstetrics Practice

UHA Donates $25K to Maui’s Mālama I Ke Ola to Support New OB-GYN Position After Closure of Island’s Only Obstetrics Practice

in UHA in the News by UHA Health Insurance

Honolulu, HI (Nov. 16, 2023) – UHA Health Insurance has donated $25,000 to fund a temporary obstetrics position at nonprofit Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center, which is facing unprecedented demand with the recent closure of the island’s only private obstetrics practice.

The interim obstetrician will deliver babies and offer prenatal care to pregnant women until a new permanent OB-GYN starts at Mālama I Ke Ola on Dec. 26.

Maui was already facing a significant obstetrics challenge before the Aug. 8 wildfires with the announced October closure of the obstetrics practice at Maui Lani Physicians and Surgeons. For a time, it looked like many women on Maui might be forced to give birth off-island.

Mālama I Ke Ola is a Wailuku nonprofit healthcare organization with a mission to provide safety-net health care for the historically marginalized. Medicare and Medicaid patients are its two largest populations, but many women with private insurance on Maui began to look to Mālama I Ke Ola when Maui Lani announced the planned October end of its obstetrics practice.

“Given the exit of obstetrics providers on Maui, Mālama I Ke Ola is playing an even more critical role today to provide obstetrics to pregnant women on-island,” said Howard Lee, president and CEO of UHA. “Funding a new Mālama I Ke Ola obstetrician provides the women of Maui with needed healthcare so they are able to enjoy one of life’s greatest events with the support of family and friends close to home.”

As expected, Mālama I Ke Ola has seen a definite uptick in maternity patients who are delivering their babies starting in November.

With the devastating Lahaina fires, access to maternity care – and health services of all types – is even more impacted; Mālama I Ke Ola’s own Lahaina satellite clinic was destroyed, but it is currently providing West Maui services out of Lahaina Comprehensive Health Center.

“The closure of obstetric services at a private practice earlier this year had already put the community of Maui in an access crisis for obstetric services,” explained John Vaz, MD, MSHA, the CEO & infectious diseases physician at Mālama I Ke Ola. “The wildfires in August made this even more complicated for women and families displaced by the fires. Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center stepped in to fill this gap for a community impacted by both these events; to provide pregnancy and delivery care in a high quality, trauma-informed and safe environment. This has largely been made possible through support and funding by partners such as UHA and other health insurance plans, who have also seen this solution as their responsibility and commitment to the community of Maui.”

About Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center
The Community Clinic of Maui is a non-profit healthcare organization that has served the community of Maui as Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center for the past 30 years. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), its mission is to provide culturally sensitive, coordinated primary care services emphasizing education, prevention and advocacy, regardless of oneʻs ability to pay at the time of visit. Mālama I Ke Ola is a proud member of the national Community Health Center movement, providing a safety-net of health care for people who have been historically marginalized. Its integrated model of primary care involves dedicated teams from different disciplines who take a person-centered and trauma-informed approach to nurture one’s journey to health and wellness. Mālama I Ke Ola recognizes the presence of past and present trauma in the lives of all people, and is committed to the healing of trauma, building agency and growing resilience. Curiosity and humility are valued as Mālama I Ke Ola challenges its people to always provide care that feels respectful, safe and valuable to the different Maui communities they serve.

About UHA Health Insurance
UHA Health Insurance – through the largest physician network in Hawai‘i – provides medical, drug and vision plans to nearly 4,300 Hawai‘i employer groups and over 60,000 members. It is Hawai‘i’s only homegrown health plan founded by physicians themselves: University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine educators. UHA continues to be physician-led with a vision of overall care; it was the first in the state to offer health plans focused on wellness and prevention of disease. By meeting strict quality standards to ensure clinically sound decision-making that respects the rights of patients and medical providers, UHA received accreditation in Health Utilization Management through URAC, the independent non-profit that promotes healthcare quality. For information, visit or follow @uhahealth on Twitter.


Deborah Sharkey
Phone: 808.349.8221