HOPE Services Hawai‘i, a non-profit organization based in Hilo, Hawai‘i, was awarded CARES Act funding for telehealth and broadband access to service the homeless community on Hawai‘i Island. These COVID-19 preventative efforts are a continuation of improving care to reduce the severity of health issues and overall health services costs.

The project will facilitate immediate access to primary and specialty care via telehealth and mobile wi-fi hotspots for the homeless population on Hawai‘i Island currently living on the streets and in shelters. This service resulted from a collaboration of many of community stakeholders focused on digital equity and the digital divide highlighted by COVID-19.

“We recognize that broadband access is critical to all of our communities, however, not all of our residents have the ability to receive telehealth services,” said Gov. David Ige. “We are proud to support HOPE Services with CARES Act funding to deliver COVID-19 health screenings to vulnerable homeless communities on Hawai‘i Island.”

“Through the work of the Hawai‘i Broadband Hui, which we helped convene for more than 30 weeks since March 2020, community stakeholders have come together to address the digital disparities brought to light by the pandemic. This project is great testament to the collaborative efforts of our community,” said Mike McCartney, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. “This project gives us a glimpse of what is possible for Hawai‘i, with the onset of the emerging digital economy.”

“We’re truly grateful for this partnership and the critical resources to bridging the gap of healthcare for our houseless community through telehealth. What an amazing team effort,” said Brandee Menino, chief executive officer of HOPE Services Hawai‘i.

“This grant is so important to help some of our most vulnerable populations during this pandemic. I’ve been impressed with HOPE Service’s commitment to improving access to care, especially to avoid the spread of COVID, by leveraging telehealth and technology,” said Dr. Christina Higa, co-director of the Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center, Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa.

For more information about Broadband Hui and the Hawai‘i Broadband Initiative please contact burt.q.lum@hawaii.gov.