by Tina Shelton
Eleven health care providers — doctors and advanced practice nurses — have been selected to receive up to $40,000 to repay their student loans in exchange for working in a Health Profession Shortage Area in Hawai‘i for two years. They include family nurse practitioners on Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i, West Hawai‘i Island and Wai‘anae, an obstetrician on Maui, pediatricians in Kalihi and Wai’anae and a psychiatrist at Halawa prison.
“These are people who are making a difference in communities where they are needed the most,” said Dr. Kelley Withy, the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) professor who leads the Hawai’i State Loan Repayment Program. “Among the critical services these 11 will provide, are helping sex and child abuse assault victims on Moloka‘i, acting as the first layer of disease detection in family clinics, and working with the homeless and migrant workers on O‘ahu and in West Hawai‘i.”
The loan repayment program was launched to address a severe shortage of physicians and other health workers in the state. The Hawai‘i State Legislature authorized the UH Mānoa schools of medicine and nursing (SONDH) to establish the loan repayment program. Funding so far has come from Affordable Care Act money and donations from HMSA, The Queen’s Medical Center and AlohaCare. In 2012, the first five health care workers received loan repayment awards. The additional 11 awards total $394,474.
Meet the recipients
Dr. Jasmine Waipa – Wai‘anae
“I attend the deliveries of many babies that I eventually care for in my clinic,” said Dr. Jasmine Waipa, a pediatrician at the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. Waipa is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, Harvard University and Stanford School of Medicine. “My interests are in health disparities, adolescent medicine, obesity and preventable chronic disease in children.”
Aileen Duran – Lāna‘i
Aileen Duran, a graduate of Farrington High School and the UH Mānoa Family Nurse Practitioner Program, noticed a real need for bilingual providers when she was training on Lāna‘i. A speaker of Tagalog and Ilokano, Duran is a Family Nurse Practitioner at the Lānai Community Health Center.
Erik Anderson – Kalihi-Palama
Erik Anderson is a native of Kailua, O‘ahu. He graduated from ‘Iolani School, the University of California-Santa Cruz and earned his master’s degree at the SONDH to become an adult and geriatric nurse practitioner. Anderson has joined the adult medicine team at Kalihi-Palama.
“During my education at UH, I had the pleasure of doing a clinical rotation at Kalihi-Palama Health Center,” said Anderson. “I enjoyed working with the patients from Kalihi, including the new Micronesian immigrants.”
Denise Houghtaling – Moloka‘i
Denise Houghtaling is a family nurse practitioner at the Moloka‘i Community Health Center. She is in a doctorate program through Johns Hopkins University and is doing a capstone project that focuses on providing services to victims of sex and child abuse on Moloka‘i.
Dr. Christopher Lawlis – Hālawa Correctional Facility
Dr. Christopher Lawlis, who joined the state as a psychiatrist at Hālawa Correctional Facility, is a new father who wants to raise his children in Hawai‘i. His loan repayment award helps make that possible. “I am very interested in homeless and chemical dependence issues and I believe the incarcerated can be helped to get back on track.”
Jennifer Morita – Wai‘anae
Jennifer Morita, from Pālolo on O’ahu, graduated from Kaimukī High School and attended the SONDH. During her training at the Institute for Human Services, Kōkua Kalihi Valley and on the Waikīkī Care A Van, she honed skills and a passion to help the underserved, particularly Native Hawaiians, Micronesians and women currently in domestic violence settings. She is a family nurse practitioner at the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.
Dr. Alicia Turlington – Kalihi-Palama
Dr. Alicia Turlington, pediatrician at Kōkua Kalihi Valley Health Center, grew up on Kaua‘i. She completed her medical training at the UH-JABSOM Pediatrics Residency Program. While still a pediatrician-in-training, she was assigned to a clinic at Kōkua Kalihi Valley. “I started there in 2008 as a trainee and have been there ever since,” said Dr. Turlington, who now helps train current UH pediatric residents in addition to treating children at the health center.
Hokulani Porter – Wai‘anae
Hokulani Porter, who is part-Hawaiian, grew up seeing many of the health issues that Native Hawaiians experience in her own family. “That motivated me to enter nursing,” said Porter. The holder of a Master’s Degree, she is a family nurse practitioner at the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.
Dr. Duffy Casey – Maui
Dr. Duffy Casey, an obstetrician at Community Clinic of Maui, had lots of international experience when he moved to Hawai‘i four years ago. Clinical rotations on the neighbor islands exposed him to the small-town life on Maui, which he loves.
Anjalie Graham – Hawai‘i Island
Anjalie Graham is a family nurse practitioner at West Hawai‘i Community Health Center. “We conduct homeless clinics weekly and I enjoy providing that kind of care,” Graham said.
Lisa Garrett-Guadnola – Wai‘anae
Lisa Garrett-Guadnola comes to the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health enter by way of Detroit, where her parents worked in an automobile assembly line. During a master’s program in nursing, she worked with Catholic Charities of Hawai‘i in Ma‘ili. “It was my first introduction to the Wai‘anae Coast, and I felt right at home,” she said.
“Students burdened by heavy educational debt may be less likely to choose primary care because it doesn’t pay as well as sub-specialties, adding to the health care worker shortage,” said JABSOM’s Dr. Withy of the Hawai‘i State Loan Repayment Program. “The student loan repayment program can help even the playing field.”